Increased risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in women with gestational diabetes mellitus: A population-based cohort study, systematic review and meta-analysis.

J Diabetes Complications. 2019 Jun 27. pii: S1056-8727(19)30092-3. doi: 10.1016/j.jdiacomp.2019.06.006. [Epub ahead of print]

Lavrentaki A, Thomas T, Subramanian A, Valsamakis G, Thomas N, Toulis KA, Wang J, Daly B, Saravanan P, Sumilo D, Mastorakos G, Tahrani AA, Nirantharakumar K.


AIMS: Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) is one of the leading causes of liver transplantation in the West. This study seeks to examine whether women with gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) are at increased risk of developing NAFLD compared to women without GDM. METHODS: We conducted a population-based retrospective matched-controlled cohort study utilising The Health Improvement Network (THIN), a large primary care database representative of the United Kingdom population, between 01/01/1990 to 31/05/2016 followed by systematic review of available literature. The study population included 9640 women with GDM and 31,296 controls without GDM, matched for age, body mass index (BMI) and time of pregnancy. All study participants were free from NAFLD diagnosis at study entry. Patients with GDM and patients developing NAFLD were identified by clinical codes. RESULTS: The median (range) follow-up duration was similar in women with and without GDM (2.95 (1.21-6.01) vs 2.85 (1.14-5.75) years respectively). Unadjusted incidence rate ratio (IRR) for NAFLD development in women with vs without GDM was 3.28 (95% CI 2.14-5.02), which remained significant after adjustment for wide range of potential confounders (IRR 2.70; 95% CI 1.744-4.19). The risk of NAFLD in GDM remained high (IRR 2.46: 95% CI 1.51-4.00) despite women being censored after they developed type 2 diabetes. The meta-analysis of 3 studies (including the current study) showed increased NAFLD risk in women with vs without GDM (OR 2.60; 95% CI 1.90-3.57, I2 = 0%). As our study is based on routine clinical diagnosis of NAFLD, this study could potentially have underestimated the risk of NAFLD development. CONCLUSIONS: Women with GDM are at increased risk of developing NAFLD in their later life compared to women without GDM regardless of the development of type 2 diabetes. Clinicians should have a low threshold to investigate women with history of GDM for the presence of NAFLD. Further studies to identify screening strategies are needed.