Babies born to mothers with gestational diabetes are likely to have more body fat at two months after birth as compared to babies born to healthy mothers, suggests new study led by researchers including an Indian-origin scientist.
The findings revealed, although babies born to mothers with gestational diabetes had no differences in body fat content at birth, but after two months they had 16 per cent more body fat compared to those born to healthy mothers.
“This new study suggests diabetes in the mother can trigger changes in the baby at a very early stage,” said Lead Author Karen Logan, Imperial College of London in Britain.
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.
“The majority of babies in our study were breastfed, 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.
In the study, 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.