Maternal glucose concentration influences fetal growth, gestation, and pregnancy complications

Theresa O. Scholl, Maryfran Sowers, Xinhua Chen, Carine Lenders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

150 Scopus citations


Using 1990-1995 data, the authors examined the influence of post-challenge maternal glucose concentration on pregnancy outcome in 1,157 nondiabetic US gravidas. After control for potential confounding variables and comparing gravidas with lower glucose concentrations (<99 mg/dl) with the others, they found that mean birth weight increased by 50 g and 200 g with glucose concentrations of 99-130 mg/dl and >130 mg/dl, respectively. Increased maternal glucose concentration also was associated with an increased risk of large-for-gestation fetuses (p for trend < 0.001) and a decreased risk of fetal growth restriction (p for trend < 0.05). The association between glucose and gestation was inverse and significantly shortened when glucose concentrations were higher. Maternal complications increased twofold or more with high glucose concentrations and included cesarean section and clinical chorioamnionitis. Chorioamnionitis in combination with high maternal glucose concentration increased the risk of very preterm delivery almost 12-fold. These observations extend Pedersen's hypothesis - that high concentrations of maternal glucose give rise to increased nutrient transfer to the fetus and increase fetal growth, beyond the model of maternal diabetes (Acta Endocrinol 1954;16:330-42). They raise the question of whether higher, but seemingly normal maternal glucose concentration predisposes to or is a marker for placental inflammation and infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)514-520
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Epidemiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 15 2001
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Medicine


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