NEW German research has found that children whose mothers have type 1 diabetes have a higher risk of being overweight and developing insulin resistance, which could also put them at a higher risk of type 1 diabetes themselves.
Researchers from Helmholtz Zentrum München and the Technical University of Munich looked at data taken from 2,779 children with a first-degree relative who has type 1 diabetes. The children were participating in one of three studies investigating the mechanisms underlying type 1 diabetes – TEENDIAB, BABYDIAB and BABYDIET.
The researchers recorded the children's metabolic status and body weight from the age of three months to 18 years, and compared the children of mothers with type 1 diabetes to children who did not have diabetic mothers but who had fathers or siblings with type 1 diabetes.
The results showed that the children of mothers with type 1 diabetes had a significantly higher body mass index than children from mothers without diabetes, with those in the TEENDIAB study, for example, almost twice as likely to become overweight.
Waist circumference, fasting blood glucose level, and risk for insulin resistance were also significantly higher if the mother had type 1 diabetes, even after the researchers had taken into account other potential factors such as the mother's socio-economic status and the child's birth weight.
“Our study shows that children of mothers with type 1 diabetes are not only at significantly higher risk of having the condition itself, but are also at greater risk of being overweight and developing insulin resistance,” commented one of the study's co-authors, Anette-Gabriele Ziegler.
“We would therefore advise that paediatricians should bear this correlation in mind so that they can react on early warning signs in such children.”
Type 1 diabetes is the most common metabolic disorder in childhood, with previous research showing that children of parents with type 1 diabetes are at much higher risk of developing the disease than those whose parents don't have the condition.
Previous studies have also suggested that children of mothers with type 1 diabetes have a higher risk of developing metabolic syndrome, possibly due to the intermittent high blood glucose levels in the uterus having a long-term effect on the child's metabolism and body weight, explained the researchers.
The results were published online in the journal Diabetologia.