Paired maternal and fetal cardiac functional measurements in women with gestational diabetes mellitus at 35–36 weeks’ gestation

Jesica Aguilera, Janina Semmler, Carla Coronel, Georgios Georgiopoulos, John Simpson, Kypros H. Nicolaides*, Marietta Charakida

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Gestational diabetes mellitus is associated with early-onset cardiovascular disease and increased incidence of adverse cardiovascular outcomes in mothers and their offspring. Few studies with a limited number of patients have reported subclinical cardiac changes in association with gestational diabetes mellitus; however, it remains unclear whether the mother and the fetus respond in a similar fashion to gestational diabetes mellitus; thus, by assessing the heart of one, we can estimate or predict changes in the other. Objective: This study aimed to compare maternal and fetal cardiovascular functions in the third trimester between women with gestational diabetes mellitus and women with uncomplicated pregnancy and to explore whether gestational diabetes mellitus affects to the same extent the maternal and fetal heart. Study Design: This was a cross-sectional study of maternal and fetal echocardiography for assessment of cardiovascular function in the third trimester in women with singleton pregnancies who received a diagnosis of gestational diabetes mellitus and the control group with uncomplicated pregnancies. Results: In this study, we included 161 women with gestational diabetes mellitus and 483 women with uncomplicated pregnancies. Compared with women in the control group, women with gestational diabetes mellitus were older (34.5, standard deviation, 5.3 years] vs 32.5, standard deviation, 4.8 years]; P<.001), had higher body mass index (31.3 kg/m2 [standard deviation, 5.8] vs 28.6 kg/m2 [standard deviation, 4.4]; P<.001), had lower weight gain during pregnancy (8.3 [interquartile range, 4.8–11 kg] vs 10.8 [interquartile range, 8.2–13.5 kg]; P<.001), and delivered babies with lower birthweight (P<.001). After multivariable analysis, accounting for differences in maternal characteristics and fetal weight, mothers with gestational diabetes mellitus had lower left ventricular diastolic and systolic (tissue Doppler systolic [s'] wave) functional indices (P<.01 for both) compared with those of mothers in the control group. The noted cardiac changes did not fulfill the adult criteria for clinical cardiac dysfunction. No differences in hemodynamic indices (cardiac output and peripheral vascular resistance) and left ventricular mass were noted between the groups. Fetuses of mothers with gestational diabetes mellitus had more globular-shaped hearts with increased right and left ventricular sphericity indices (P<.001 for both) and reduced global longitudinal right and left ventricular systolic functional indices (P<.001 for both). The effect of gestational diabetes mellitus on maternal and fetal hearts was different, and there was no clear association between the two. Conclusion: In the third trimester, in pregnancies with gestational diabetes mellitus, there were subclinical cardiac changes in both the mother and the fetus, but there was no significant difference in any of the fetal cardiac parameters between women with and women without unfavorable cardiac profile. This suggests that the stimulus for cardiovascular responses in the mother and fetus may not be the same in pregnancies with gestational diabetes mellitus.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)574.e1-574.e15
JournalAmerican Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020


  • deformation
  • diastolic cardiac function
  • systolic cardiac function


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