Womb Diabetes Exposure Linked to Later-Life T2D

A new study has shown that babies who were generally exposed to gestational diabetes and Type 2 diabetes in the uterus stand a high risk of becoming Type 2 diabetic in later life.

The researchers asserted that those who were exposed to the two types of diabetes were seen to develop Type 2 diabetes in the future compared to those who hadn’t undergone the exposure.

These research findings have been published in the JAMA Pediatrics.

Variation in Risks among Children

There were some notable variations among all the children studied. The First Nation (FN) children comprising of indigenous Canadians had a higher risk compared to the non-First Nation offspring.

Type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes had same timelines both for the FN and non-FN offspring. “This shows that we must always identify and determine both types of diabetes without considering one’s ethnicity,” noted the study authors.

The authors continued to explain that socioeconomic factors can be seen to be some of the main reasons the FN offspring are at a higher risk compared to the non-FN. About 70% of the FN women live in low socioeconomic surroundings.

“This imbalance in food security, educational opportunity, income inequality and prenatal care has sustained effect on the future health of different babies in the same generational period.”

Furthermore, the researchers were able to establish that during the onset of youth, the effect of exposure to Type 2 diabetes in the utero is even more pronounced. However, they were not able to explain how the two are linked; roughly explaining that it may be due to “prenatal programming involving altered β cell mass or function and abnormal lipid metabolism.”

How the Study was done

An analysis of over 467,850 records offspring in the Diabetes Education Resource for Children and Adolescents database was done by the scientists. They concentrated on the period from 1984 to 2008, following these infants for more than 18 years. The analysis excluded mother-infant dyads that have monogenic diabetes, secondary diabetes or type 1 diabetes.

In the case of non-FN offspring, the incident rate for Type 2 diabetes prior to 30 years was as follows:

  • No exposure: 0.13 for every 1,000
  • Gestational diabetes: 0.29 for every 1,000
  • Type 2 diabetes exposure: 1.17 for every 1,000 person-years

For the First Nation offspring, this rate was:

  • No exposure: 0.83 for every  1,000
  • Gestational diabetes: 1.67 for every 1,000
  • Type 2 diabetes exposure: 5.63 for every 1,000 person-years

The study was limited by the fact that it lacked data on levels of glycated hemoglobin and also did not have a body mass index in addition to other anthropometric data for the offspring and mother.