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Your Environment. Your Health.

Maternal Gestational Diabetes Linked to Daughters being Overweight Later

Gary Miller, Ph.D., Jason Richardson, Ph.D.
Emory University, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
NIEHS Grants P30ES019776, R01ES015991, P30ES005022

NIEHS grantees report that women who developed gestational diabetes and were overweight before pregnancy were at a higher risk of having daughters who were obese later in childhood. The findings suggest that helping women to reduce weight gain and improve lifestyle before and during pregnancy may also help reduce the risk of obesity in their children.

The researchers studied associations between childhood obesity and gestational diabetes in 421 girls and their mothers who were part of the Cohort study of Young Girls' Nutrition, Environment, and Transitions (CYGNET). Each year from 2005 to 2011, the researchers recorded the girl's height, weight, body fat, abdominal obesity, and other parameters. Kaiser Permanente's comprehensive electronic medical records allowed researchers to link data collected on the girls to information about their mothers.

Twenty-seven mothers in the study had gestational diabetes. If a girl's mother had gestational diabetes, her risk of having a body mass index at or above the 85th percentile was 3.5 times higher than girls whose mothers did not have gestational diabetes. This association was independent of other factors that influence obesity such as race/ethnicity, maternal obesity, and a girl's pubertal stage. If the girl's mother was overweight in addition to having gestational diabetes, her risk of being overweight was about 5.5 times higher.

Citation: Kubo A, Ferrara A, Windham GC, Greenspan LC, Deardorff J, Hiatt RA, Quesenberry CP Jr, Laurent C, Mirabedi AS, Kushi LH. 2014. Maternal hyperglycemia during pregnancy predicts adiposity of the offspring. Diabetes Care 37(11):2996-3002.