Study finds babies that are large for gestational age and born to mothers with gestational diabetes are at higher obesity risk
Large babies born to mothers who suffered from gestational diabetes are three times more likely than others to become obese as kids.
New research published in Diabetologia (the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes [EASD]) has unravelled this connection.
The study is by Dr Padma Kaul (Department of Medicine, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada) and co-authors.
There are multiple causes of being overweight or obese in childhood. Research has established that children who are born large are more likely to be larger in childhood.
Maternal weight, pre-pregnancy and gestational weight gain, and maternal diabetes status during pregnancy are established risk factors for having infants who are larger than their gestational age (LGA).
“Our study establishes that a larger proportion of excess weight in childhood can be attributed to LGA than maternal diabetes during pregnancy”
However, little is known about the relative impact of LGA and maternal diabetes during pregnancy on being overweight/obese in early childhood.
Rates of being overweight/obese at pre-school age ranged from 21% in the control group to 43% in the gestational diabetes/LGA group.
Rates of overweight/obesity were also high in the LGA/pre-existing diabetes group (36%) and the no diabetes/LGA group (35%).
Statistical calculations showed that a child’s risk of being overweight/obese was near-trebled (2.79 times increased risk) if they were in the gestational diabetes/LGA group compared to the control no diabetes/AGA group.
In the pre-existing diabetes/LGA group and the no diabetes/LGA group, risk was doubled compared to controls, clearly indicating LGA as an independent risk factor for overweight/obesity in the child.
The authors explain that being LGA at birth is a potentially modifiable factor and this study highlights the need to better understand the factors associated with its incidence in order to develop strategies to reduce childhood overweight/obesity rates.
According to the authors, “Our study establishes that a larger proportion of excess weight in childhood can be attributed to LGA than maternal diabetes during pregnancy. We hope that these findings will reinforce public health campaigns advising women who are planning to get pregnant that, just like smoking, alcohol consumption and other lifestyle choices, their weight prior to getting pregnant, and weight gain and blood sugar control during pregnancy may have a significant impact on the future health of their children.”