High Blood Glucose Levels during Pregnancy Can Increase Childhood Obesity Risk

According to a new study, having high blood sugar levels during pregnancy can increase the risk of the child developing obesity.

The team of researchers from the Kaiser Permanente Northern California and University of Tennessee studied data of over 40,000 women from the Kaiser Permanente Northern California health care system, who had delivered babies between 1995 and 2004. The researchers also assessed 5 to 7 years long follow-up data of some of the children. All women had undergone a blood glucose screening test around the 26th week of pregnancy. Women with slightly elevated blood sugar levels took another test to find out if they had gestational diabetes mellitus.

The researchers observed that women with elevated blood sugar levels, although not enough to be diagnosed with gestational diabetes mellitus, were likely to increase the risk of childhood obesity between the age of 5 and 7 years. The team determined that the risk increased by 13% in comparison with women having normal blood sugar. Samantha Ehrlich, professor of public health at the University of Tennessee, who led the study, adds further, “If the woman is indeed diagnosed with gestational diabetes, the risk of the child developing obesity increases by 52 percent. 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.”

It is also worth noting that women with a normal body mass index combined with increased blood glucose levels were not likely to influence childhood obesity.