A new study published in the journal Diabetologia reveals that children exposed to gestational diabetes during pregnancy are six more likely to develop diabetes than children not exposed during pregnancy.
In this study 255 adolescents participated and the researchers examined the risk in obese youth of developing prediabetes after exposure to the womb. The adolescents were followed for three years.
The researchers commented as follows: “We hypothesized that prenatal exposure to GDM in obese children with normal glucose tolerance (NGT) would be associated with development of altered glucose metabolism over time, driven by an impairment of beta cell secretion relative to the insulin sensitivity.”
“Our study demonstrates that obese normal glucose-tolerant children of GDM mothers have pre-existing defects in beta cell function,” said the study authors. “This is in turn a strong risk factor for these children to develop prediabetes or diabetes.”
The researchers determined that 210 (82%) participants were not exposed to GDM (called the NGDM group), and 45 (18%) were exposed to GDM (the EGDM group). In the NGDM group, only 9% (n=18) developed either IGT or type 2 diabetes compared with 31% (n=14) of the EGDM group who developed either IGT or type 2 diabetes, with both results statistically significant.. “Exposure to GDM was the most significant predictor of developing IGT or type 2 diabetes, with an increased risk of almost six times for those children exposed to GDM in the womb,” the study stated.
The researchers recommend testing for prediabetes and diabetes in children where the mothers have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes. They also suggest that preventive and therapeutic strategies should be considered before the development of full clinical manifestation of diabetes.
Ram Weiss et al. A low disposition index in adolescent offspring of mothers with gestational diabetes: a risk marker for the development of impaired glucose tolerance in youth. Diabetologia, August 2014 DOI: 10.1007/s00125-014-3345-2