Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Gestational diabetes ups obesity risk in offspring

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Children born to mothers who developed diabetes during pregnancy are more likely to be overweight or obese than their peers, according to a new study.

However, treatment of so-called gestational diabetes reduces the risk.

Dr. Teresa A. Hillier and her 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 preexisting diabetes were excluded.

Follow-up with the children 5 to 7 years later revealed a significant association between their weight and their mothers' blood glucose levels when tested during pregnancy, the researchers report in the medical journal Diabetes Care.

Specifically, a child was 28 percent more likely to be overweight or obese when the glucose level of the mother during pregnancy was in the top range rather than the lowest.

According to Hillier's team, the trend 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.

"Our results suggest that 'metabolic imprinting' of the future child for obesity occurs with one or more abnormalities on an oral glucose tolerance test," Hillier and her associates conclude. "The risk is modifiable by treating gestational diabetes."

SOURCE: Diabetes Care, September 2007.

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