Gestational diabetes prevalence at moderate and high altitude

Anna G. Euser*, Andrew Hammes, Jared T. Ahrendsen, Barbara Neshek, David A. Weitzenkamp, Javier Gutierrez, Peppi Koivunen, Colleen G. Julian, Lorna G. Moore

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: High-altitude (HA) pregnancies have been associated with decreased glucose levels and increased insulin sensitivity versus sea level. Our objective was to determine if the prevalence of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) and the impact of demographic characteristics on GDM diagnosis differed at moderate altitude (MA) versus HA. Methods: Using a retrospective cohort design, we compared women living at HA (>8250 ft) and MA (4000-7000 ft) during pregnancy. Exclusion criteria were as follows: Multiple gestation, preexisting diabetes, unavailable GDM results, or relocation from a different altitude during pregnancy. GDM diagnosis was determined using Carpenter and Coustan criteria. Data were compared by t-test (continuous variables) or chi-squared tests (categorical variables). Univariate, multivariate, and stepwise regression models were used to assess the impact of various factors on GDM prevalence. Results: There was no difference in GDM prevalence between altitudes in these populations; the relationship between altitude and GDM was nonsignificant in all regression analyses. At MA, maternal age, Hispanic ethnicity, body mass index (BMI), and gestational age (GA) at testing increased GDM incidence in univariate analyses. At HA, maternal age, Hispanic ethnicity, and multiparity increased GDM incidence in univariate analyses. Conclusion: While GDM prevalence did not differ between MA and HA, the impact of maternal demographic characteristics on GDM risk varied by altitude group. Higher BMI and greater GA at testing increased the incidence of GDM at MA, but not at HA. Multiparity had an effect at HA, but not MA. These differences may represent subtle differences in glucose metabolism at HA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)367-372
Number of pages6
JournalHigh Altitude Medicine and Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 30 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Physiology


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