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Keywords:

  • gestational diabetes;
  • fetal programming;
  • pregnancy

Abstract

Aim  Type 2 diabetes is frequently familial. Hyperglycaemia in pregnancy might act in addition to genetic factors to cause diabetes in the children of mothers with gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM). The first manifestation of this in female offspring is likely to be GDM in their own pregnancies. We compared the incidence of GDM in daughters of diabetic mothers and diabetic fathers to determine if in utero exposure to hyperglycaemia increased the risk of a diabetes-prone phenotype in offspring.

Methods  We analysed the outcome of a GDM screening programme in women with a family history of diabetes in their mother (n = 535), father (n = 566), both parents (n = 77) or neither (n = 4672).

Results  GDM was twice as common in the daughters of diabetic mothers (11%) than diabetic fathers (5%, P = 0.002). Women with two diabetic parents were no more likely to have GDM than women with only a diabetic mother.

Conclusions  Genetic predisposition to GDM should be equally shared by daughters of diabetic mothers and fathers. An excess of maternal transmission of diabetes is consistent with an epigenetic effect of hyperglycaemia in pregnancy acting in addition to genetic factors to produce diabetes in the next generation.