Diabetic mothers are more likely to have babies who will be fat, new research has found.
Experts at Imperial College London looked at 42 tots whose mums had gestational diabetes and 44 babies from healthy mothers, using MRI scans to compare levels of body fat. These readings were taken not long after birth, then again when the little ones were 10 weeks old.
While there was no difference between the groups during the first scans, after 10 weeks the babies whose mothers had diabetes held 16 per cent high body fat volume than those who didn’t.
Scientists believe this is may be because of the baby’s metabolism in the womb, or due to the differences in the composition of breast milk in those women with diabetes as most of the tots in the experiment were breastfed.
Up to 18 per cent of women giving birth in England and Wales are affected by gestational diabetes, the NHS estimates, with the condition usually developing after 28 weeks during the final trimester. While it disappears when the baby is born, the mothers are more likely to get Type 2 diabetes later in life if they had the condition.
Women with gestational diabetes who are overweight or obese can increase the risk of miscarriage, premature labor or stillbirth.
“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,” Dr Karen Logan, lead author of the study, said.
“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.”
Professor Neena Modi, from the department of medicine at Imperial and president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), also noted: “We found no differences in body fat at birth. However by 10 weeks of age, the babies born to mums with diabetes had accumulated about 16% 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.”
Findings were published in journal Diabetes Care.