Women with high blood-sugar levels during pregnancy are at a higher risk of giving their child obesity, according to a new study published in PLOS One.
The researchers analyzed data from over 40,000 pregnant women who gave birth between 1995 and 2004 in the Kaiser Permanente Northern California health care system. They also used the data of the children, whom were tracked until 5 to 7 years old.
Samantha Ehrlich, professor of public health at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and fellow researchers at Kaiser Permanente Northern California, found that once elevated blood-sugar levels are found in a screening test – a U.S.A. standard for pregnant women during weeks 24-28 – even if the blood glucose isn’t high enough for a diagnosis of gestational diabetes, the children are at higher risk of developing obesity between 5 to 7 years of age.
They say obesity risks increase 13 percent compared to women with normal blood-sugar levels during the screening test.
“And if the woman is indeed diagnosed with gestational diabetes, the risk of the child developing obesity increases by 52 percent,” according to Ehrlich.
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The research team also learned that if the mother has an average body mass index (BMI), high blood-sugar levels during pregnancy were no longer associated with the development of childhood obesity.
“This information is important because it suggests that we may be able to prevent childhood obesity in two ways: by helping mothers to achieve a normal BMI before they become pregnant, and by reducing hyperglycemia during the pregnancy,” Ehrlich said.
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