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Gestational diabetes raises obesity risk in children

Children born to mothers with gestational diabetes are more likely to become overweight or obese than their peers.

Gestational diabetes raises obesity risk in children

Children born to mothers with gestational diabetes, i.e. diabetes developed during pregnancy, are more likely to become overweight or obese than their peers. Researchers from the Center for Health Research, Kaiser Permanente Northwest, Portland, Oregon, and colleagues studied nearly 10,000 mother-child pairs enrolled in Kaiser Permanente plans in Hawaii and in the Pacific Northwest during the period from 1995 to 2000. Women with pre-existing diabetes were excluded. A follow-up with the children 5-7 years later revealed a significant association between their weight and their mothers' blood glucose levels when tested during pregnancy. Specifically, a child was 28 per cent more likely to be overweight or obese when the glucose level of the mother during pregnancy was in the high range rather than the lowest. The pattern remained significant after factoring in maternal weight gain, maternal age, number of pregnancies, ethnicity and birth weight. However, further analysis showed that the risk of obesity was not significantly increased among children born to mothers with treated gestational diabetes. Thus, the results suggest that 'metabolic imprinting' of the future child for obesity occurs with one or more abnormalities on an oral glucose tolerance test. Treating gestational diabetes can considerably lower the risk.
Diabetes Care,
September 2007
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