BACKGROUND: Small-vessel dysfunction may be an important consequence of chronic hyperglycemia. We examined the association between gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), a state of transient hyperglycemia during pregnancy, and retinal microvascular changes in pregnant women at 26-28 weeks of pregnancy.
METHODS: A total of 1136 pregnant women with singleton pregnancies were recruited during their first trimester at two major Singapore maternity hospitals in an on-going birth cohort study. Participants underwent an oral glucose tolerance test and retinal imaging at 26-28 weeks gestation (n = 542). We used the 1999 World Health Organization (WHO) criteria to define GDM: ≥7.0 mmol/L for fasting glucose and/or ≥7.8 mmol/L for 2-h post-glucose. Retinal microvasculature was measured using computer software (Singapore I Vessel Analyzer, SIVA version 3.0, Singapore Eye Research Institute, Singapore) from the retinal photographs.
RESULTS: In a multiple linear regression model adjusting for age, ethnicity and maternal education, mothers with GDM had narrower arteriolar caliber (-1.6 μm; 95% Confidence Interval [CI]: -3.1 μm, -0.2 μm), reduced arteriolar fractal dimension (-0.01 Df; 95% CI: -0.02 Df, -0.001 Df;), and larger arteriolar branching angle (1.8°; 95% CI: 0.3°, 3.3°) than mothers without GDM. After further adjusting for traditional risks of GDM, arteriolar branching angle remained significantly larger in mothers with GDM than those without GDM (2.0°; 95% CI: 0.5°, 3.6°).
CONCLUSIONS: GDM was associated with a series of retinal arteriolar abnormalities, including narrower caliber, reduced fractal dimension and larger branching angle, suggesting that transient hyperglycemia during pregnancy may cause small-vessel dysfunction.
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- Diabetes, Gestational/physiopathology
- Pregnancy Trimester, Second/physiology
- Regression Analysis
- Retinal Vessels/physiopathology
- Young Adult