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Exposure to Diabetes in Utero Affects Child Growth Pattern

TUESDAY, March 9, 2021 -- For offspring exposed to different types of diabetes during pregnancy, there is a hierarchical body mass index (BMI) growth pattern, starting at age 3 years, according to a study published online Feb. 26 in Pediatric Obesity.

Margo Sidell, Sc.D., from Kaiser Permanente Southern California in Pasadena, and colleagues examined the longitudinal BMI trajectory from birth to age 10 years after exposure to maternal preexisting type 1 diabetes (T1D), type 2 diabetes (T2D), gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) managed with or without medication, and no diabetes during pregnancy. Data were included from 218,227 singleton children born in 2008 to 2015.

The researchers found that compared with no diabetes, for all diabetes-exposed groups, children's BMI was significantly lower at six months after birth. Compared with the no-diabetes group, for the T1D, T2D, and medicated GDM groups, BMI was significantly higher beginning at about 2.5 years of age. The growth pattern started separating at age 3 years, with the highest BMI in the T1D and T2D groups, followed by the medicated GDM, unmedicated GDM, and no-diabetes groups. BMI was significantly higher for the unmedicated GDM group compared with the no-diabetes group by age 7 years. For all ages, adjusted BMI was generally comparable between the T1D and T2D groups. The T1D, T2D, and medicated GDM groups had BMI more than one standard deviation greater than the BMI in the no-diabetes group, starting at age 5 years.

"These results provide important information to further understand the relationship between maternal diabetes during pregnancy and childhood obesity," the authors write.

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