Causes and consequences of gestational diabetes in South Asians living in Canada: results from a prospective cohort study
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BACKGROUND: The reasons for the increased risk of gestational diabetes among South Asian women are not well understood. We sought to identify the determinants of gestational diabetes and its impact on newborn health in a prospective birth cohort of South Asian women and their babies. METHODS: As part of the South Asian Birth Cohort (START) prospective birth cohort study in Ontario, we recruited 1012 South Asian women with singleton pregnancies in the second trimester of pregnancy between July 11, 2011, and Nov. 10, 2015. We collected health information and physical measurements and administered an oral glucose tolerance test. Birth weight and skinfold thickness measurements were obtained from their newborns, and cord blood glucose and insulin levels were measured. RESULTS: The incidence of gestational diabetes was 36.3% (95% confidence interval [CI] 33.3%-39.3%); the age-standardized rate was 40.7%. Factors associated with gestational diabetes included maternal age (odds ratio [OR] 1.08 [95% CI 1.04-1.12]), family history of diabetes (OR 1.65 [95% CI 1.26-2.17]), prepregnancy weight (OR 1.025 [95% CI 1.01-1.04]) and low diet quality (OR 1.57 [95% CI 1.16-2.12]). Maternal height was protective against gestational diabetes (OR 0.97 [95% CI 0.95-0.99]). The population attributable risk due to prepregnancy body mass index and low diet quality was 37.3%. Compared to newborns of women without gestational diabetes, those of women with gestational diabetes had a significantly higher birth weight (3267 [standard error (SE) 23] g v. 3181 [SE 17] g, p = 0.005), greater skinfold thickness (11.7 [SE 0.1] mm v. 11.2 [SE 0.1] mm, p = 0.007) and lower insulin sensitivity (glucose/insulin ratio 0.092 [SE 0.009] mmol/pmol v. 0.129 [SE 0.006] mmol/pmol, p = 0.001). INTERPRETATION: The modifiable risk factors of prepregnancy weight and low diet quality accounted for 37% of the population attributable risk of gestational diabetes in our cohort. Intervention studies to lower prepregnancy weight and to prevent gestational diabetes among South Asian women in high-income countries are needed.