BACKGROUND: Offspring of women with diabetes mellitus (DM) during pregnancy have a risk of developing metabolic disease in adulthood greater than that conferred by genetics alone. The mechanisms responsible are unknown, but likely involve fetal exposure to the in utero milieu, including glucose and circulating adipokines. The purpose of this study was to assess the impact of maternal DM on fetal adipokines and anthropometry in infants of Hispanic and Native American women.
METHODS: We conducted a prospective study of offspring of mothers with normoglycemia (Con-O; n = 79) or type 2 or gestational DM (DM-O; n = 45) pregnancies. Infant anthropometrics were measured at birth and 1-month of age. Cord leptin, high-molecular-weight adiponectin (HMWA), pigment epithelium-derived factor (PEDF) and C-peptide were measured by ELISA. Differences between groups were assessed using the Generalized Linear Model framework. Correlations were calculated as standardized regression coefficients and adjusted for significant covariates.
RESULTS: DM-O were heavier at birth than Con-O (3.7 ± 0.6 vs. 3.4 ± 0.4 kg, p = 0.024), but sum of skinfolds (SSF) were not different. At 1-month, there was no difference in weight, SSF or % body fat or postnatal growth between groups. Leptin was higher in DM-O (20.1 ± 14.9 vs. 9.5 ± 9.9 ng/ml in Con-O, p < 0.0001). Leptin was positively associated with birth weight (p = 0.0007) and SSF (p = 0.002) in Con-O and with maternal hemoglobin A1c in both groups (Con-O, p = 0.023; DM-O, p = 0.006). PEDF was positively associated with birth weight in all infants (p = 0.004). Leptin was positively associated with PEDF in both groups, with a stronger correlation in DM-O (p = 0.009). At 1-month, HMWA was positively associated with body weight (p = 0.004), SSF (p = 0.025) and % body fat (p = 0.004) across the cohort.
CONCLUSIONS: Maternal DM results in fetal hyperleptinemia independent of adiposity. HMWA appears to influence postnatal growth. Thus, in utero exposure to DM imparts hormonal differences on infants even without aberrant growth.