Babies born to mothers who suffered from gestational diabetes tend to be obese, says a new study. The researchers compared 42 babies born to mothers with gestational diabetes with 44 babies from healthy mothers and used MRI scans to determine the levels of body fat.
The researchers found that when the babies were 10 weeks old, there was no difference between the groups at birth. Babies born to mothers with diabetes had a 16% higher body fat volume than those in the other group.
‘Gestational diabetes during pregnancy can trigger changes in the baby at a very early stage and increase the fat volume.’
The baby's metabolism while in the womb or differences in the composition of breast milk among women with diabetes were the possible reasons stated by the researchers.
According to National Health Service (NHS) about 18% of women giving birth in England and Wales are affected by gestational diabetes.
The condition develops in the third trimester (after 28 weeks) and disappears after the baby is born. But women who develop the gestational diabetes are more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes later in life.
Overweight and obese women are at higher risk of developing gestational diabetes. The condition can increase the possibility of stillbirth, miscarriage, and premature labor.
Dr Karen Logan, lead author of the study from the department of medicine at Imperial College London, said, "Gestational diabetes is becoming more and more common, and babies born to these mothers are at increased risk of developing diabetes when they grow up."
"Therefore, we need to understand what effects maternal diabetes has on the baby. This new study suggests diabetes in the mother can trigger changes in the baby at a very early stage."
Most of the women who participated in the study were not overweight, and the other possible causes of gestational diabetes are genetic predisposition.
Professor Neena Modi, from the department of medicine at Imperial and president of the Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), added, "We found no differences in body fat at birth. However, by 10 weeks of age, the babies born to moms with diabetes had accumulated about 16 percent more fat even though they were predominantly breastfed."
"The importance of this unexpected finding is that the beginnings of obesity are apparent in early infancy in babies born to mothers with diabetes indicating that research targeted at methods to reduce excessive fat deposition in these babies is urgently needed."
"One in five five-year-olds and one in three 10-year-olds in the UK is overweight or obese. These children are at high risk of multiple obesity-related conditions. Obesity is the biggest public health threat facing the UK children today."
The study is published in the journal Diabetes Care.