Gestational Diabetes During Pregnancy May Increase Baby's Body Fat

   |  Updated: May 13, 2016 18:02 IST

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Gestational Diabetes During Pregnancy May Increase Baby's Body Fat
Highlights
  • New study suggests diabetes in the mother can trigger changes in the baby
  • Diabetes may cause changes in breast milk
  • It resolve soon after giving birth but may elevate the woman risk of type
Gestational diabetes usually develops during the latter half of pregnancy, around the 20th week. It is like any other type of diabetes which affects the way cells use sugar (glucose). Pregnant women with gestational diabetes can control its ill-effects by eating healthy, exercising and by taking prescribed medication only when necessary.

During pregnancy, placenta - that connects to the blood supply - produces high levels of various other hormones. These hormones may often impair and meddle with the action of insulin in the cells, raising the blood sugar. Along with the growth of the baby, the placenta produces more and more insulin blocking hormones which then provokes a rise in blood sugar - to a level that can affect baby's health.

In a study conducted by  Imperial College of London in Britain, the scientists scanned 42 babies whose mothers were diagnosed with gestational diabetes, and 44 babies born to mothers without the condition, as a healthy control group.

Using MRI scanning the team measured body fat in the babies. They took these readings shortly after birth, and again when the babies were eight to 12 weeks old. The findings revealed although babies born to mothers with gestational diabetes had no differences in body fat content at birth, after two months they had 16 percent more body fat compared to those born to healthy mothers.
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"This new study suggests diabetes in the mother can trigger changes in the baby at a very early stage," said lead author Karen Logan. Also, babies born to these mothers are at increased risk of developing diabetes in adulthood.

Changes in the baby's metabolism while in the womb - or even differences in the composition of breast milk in mothers with gestational diabetes can be some of the reasons behind the differences, the researchers said in the paper published in the journal Diabetes Care.

Gestational diabetes usually starts when the woman is around seven months pregnant and results in a woman's blood sugar levels becoming too high. Excess weight and other factors such as genetic predisposition have been identified as the main causes of gestational diabetes. The condition, typically, resolves soon after giving birth but may elevate the woman risk of type 2 diabetes later in life.

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"The majority of babies in our study were breast fed, and previous studies have suggested that diabetes may cause changes in breast milk - so that it contains more sugar, fat or different levels of compounds that control appetite, called hunger hormones," added Neena Modi, professor at Imperial College of London.



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