Pubertal timing in boys and girls born to mothers with gestational diabetes mellitus: a systematic review

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Context: The incidence of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) has been on the rise, driven by maternal obesity. In parallel, pubertal tempo has increased in the general population, driven by childhood obesity. Objective: To evaluate the available evidence on pubertal timing of boys and girls born to mothers with GDM. Data sources: We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL Plus, Cochrane library and grey literature for observational studies up to October 2019. Study selection and extraction: Two reviewers independently selected studies, collected data and appraised the studies for risk of bias. Results were tabulated and narratively described as reported in the primary studies. Results: Seven articles (six for girls and four for boys) were included. Study quality score was mostly moderate (ranging from 4 to 10 out of 11). In girls born to mothers with GDM, estimates suggest earlier timing of pubarche, thelarche and menarche although for each of these outcomes only one study each showed a statistically significant association. In boys, there was some association between maternal GDM and earlier pubarche, but inconsistency in the direction of shift of age at onset of genital and testicular development and first ejaculation. Only a single study analysed growth patterns in children of mothers with GDM, describing a 3-month advancement in the age of attainment of peak height velocity and a slight increase in pubertal tempo. Conclusions: Pubertal timing may be influenced by the presence of maternal GDM, though current evidence is sparse and of limited quality. Prospective cohort studies should be conducted, ideally coupled with objective biochemical tests.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51–64
Number of pages14
JournalEuropean Journal of Endocrinology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Academy of Medical Sciences (Starter Grant for Clinical Lecturers SGL020/1013, to J I) and the Wellcome Trust (Investigator Grant WT209492/Z/17/Z, to W A). K N is a UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)/Health Data Research (HDR) UK Innovation Clinical Fellow. W A receives support from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Birmingham Biomedical Research Centre at the University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Birmingham (Grant BRC-1215-20009). The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care UK. The funders of the study had no role in the: design and conduct of the study; collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data; preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript; decision to submit the manuscript for publication.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The authors Published by Bioscientifica Ltd. Printed in Great Britain


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