HealthDay News — A mother’s excess weight gain or elevated blood glucose levels in pregnancy may put her child at increased risk for being overweight or obese, according to a study published online May 6 in Maternal and Child Health Journal.
Researchers analyzed data from 24,141 mothers and their children in three states – Oregon, Washington, and Hawaii. All the children were normal weight (5.5 to 8.8 pounds) at birth and were followed to age 10.
Those children whose mothers had elevated blood glucose during pregnancy were at increased risk for obesity, the researchers found. The risk was greatest when mothers had gestational diabetes. Compared to children whose mothers had normal blood glucose during pregnancy, those whose mothers had elevated blood glucose were at least 30% more likely to be overweight or obese by age 10. Compared to children whose mothers gained less than 40 pounds during pregnancy, those whose mothers gained more than that were at least 15% more likely to be overweight or obese during their first decade.
“When women have elevated blood sugar and gain excess weight during pregnancy, it seems to change the baby’s metabolism to ‘imprint’ the baby for childhood obesity,” lead author Teresa Hillier, MD, of the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, Oregon, said in a Kaiser news release. “We’re not sure yet of the exact mechanism of this change, but it appears the baby is adapting to an overfed environment, whether from glucose or extra weight.”