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High maternal early-pregnancy blood glucose levels are associated with altered fetal growth and increased risk of adverse birth outcomes – published online 08/08/2019

Fig from Geurtsen paper

Madelon L. Geurtsen, Eef E. L. van Soest, Ellis Voerman, Eric A. P. Steegers, Vincent W. V. Jaddoe, Romy Gaillard

Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is a major risk factor for perinatal complications. Recent studies suggest that, in mid- and late pregnancy, high maternal glucose levels below the threshold of GDM are associated with increased risks of adverse birth outcomes. In this issue, Geurtsen et al (https://doi.org/10.1007/s00125-019-4957-3) performed a population-based prospective cohort study of 6116 pregnant women to investigate the direct effects of impaired maternal glucose metabolism from early pregnancy onwards on fetal growth throughout pregnancy and on adverse birth outcomes. They report that higher maternal non-fasting glucose levels in early pregnancy are associated with altered fetal growth patterns, characterised by decreased fetal growth rates in mid-pregnancy and increased fetal growth rates from late pregnancy onwards, leading to an increased risk of delivering a large-for-gestational-age infant. The authors suggest that these findings indicate that instead of targeting maternal glucose metabolism in the second half of pregnancy, as is current clinical practice, future preventive strategies need to focus on screening for impaired maternal glucose metabolism from preconception and early pregnancy onwards. In addition, there is a need for intervention programmes to improve fetal growth and birth outcomes.

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