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Title: Gestational diabetes, environmental temperature and climate factors - from epidemiological evidence to physiological mechanisms
Authors: Pace, Nikolai Paul
Vassallo, Josanne
Calleja-Agius, Jean
Keywords: Diabetes in pregnancy
Climatic changes
Vitamin D
Brown adipose tissue
Issue Date: 2020
Publisher: Elsevier Ireland Ltd.
Citation: Pace, N. P., Vassallo, J., & Calleja-Agius, J. (2020). Gestational diabetes, environmental temperature and climate factors – from epidemiological evidence to physiological mechanisms. Early Human Development, 105219.
Abstract: Gestational diabetes (GDM) is a common metabolic complication of pregnancy that is generally asymptomatic in its clinical course, although it is potentially associated with a wide range of both maternal and foetal complications. The population prevalence of GDM varies widely, depending on the clinical diagnostic criteria, ethnicity, demographics and background prevalence of type 2 diabetes. Climate variability and environmental temperature have recently come to the forefront as potential direct or indirect determinants of human health. The association between GDM and environmental temperature is complex, and studies have often reported conflicting findings. Epidemiologic studies have shown a direct relation between rising environmental temperature and the risk of both GDM and impaired beta cell function. Seasonal trends in the prevalence of GDM have been reported in several populations, with a higher prevalence in summer months. Multiple mechanisms have been proposed to explain the GDM-temperature correlation. A growing body of evidence supports a link between temperature, energy expenditure and adipose tissue metabolism. Brown adipose tissue thermogenesis, induced by cold temperatures, improves insulin sensitivity. Further biological explanations for the GDM-temperature correlation lie in potential association with low vitamin D levels, which varies according to sunshine exposure. Observational studies are also complicated by lifestyle factors, such as diet and physical activity, that could exhibit seasonal variation. In this review article, we provide a systematic overview of available epidemiological evidence linking environmental temperature and gestational diabetes. Furthermore, the physiological mechanisms that give biological plausibility to association between GDM and temperature are explored. As future climate patterns could drive global changes in GDM prevalence, this knowledge has important implications for both clinicians and researchers.
Appears in Collections:Scholarly Works - FacM&SAna

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