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Maternal gestational diabetes linked to diabetes in children

Risk of diabetes in a child or teen is nearly doubled if their mother had gestational diabetes

Ingrid Torjesen

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Children and youth of mothers who had gestational diabetes during pregnancy are at increased risk of diabetes themselves, according to research* published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

Early detection of diabetes is important in children and young people, as around a quarter are not diagnosed until they seek care for diabetic ketoacidosis, a potentially life-threatening complication of diabetes.


"Although type 1 and type 2 diabetes in parents are well-established risk factors for diabetes, we show that gestational diabetes mellitus may be a risk indicator for diabetes in the mother's children before age 22," said Dr Kaberi Dasgupta, a clinician-scientist from the Centre for Outcomes Research and Evaluation (CORE) at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, Montreal, Canada.

The study included 73,180 mothers and the researchers compared data on single births from mothers with gestational diabetes to births from mothers without gestational diabetes. They found that the incidence of diabetes per 10,000 person-years was 4.5 in children born to mothers with gestational diabetes and 2.4 in mothers without. A child or teen whose mother had gestational diabetes was therefore nearly twice as likely to develop diabetes before the age of 22 years than a child or teen whose mother did not experience gestational diabetes.

An association between gestational diabetes and diabetes in children was found from birth to age 22 years, from birth to 12 years, and from 12 to 22 years.

"This link of diabetes in children and youth with gestational diabetes in the mother has the potential to stimulate clinicians, parents, and children and youth themselves to consider the possibility of diabetes if offspring of a mother with gestational diabetes mellitus develop signs and symptoms such as frequent urination, abnormal thirst, weight loss or fatigue," said Dr Dasgupta.


*Blotsky AL, Rahme E, Dahhou M, et al. Gestational diabetes associated with incident diabetes in childhood and youth: a retrospective cohort study. CMAJ, Apr 2019, 191 (15) E410-E417; DOI: 10.1503/cmaj.181001

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