Obesity in pregnant women was linked to a 3.5-times increased risk of type 2 diabetes in the child, concludes new research published in Diabetologia (the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes). If the pregnant woman is overweight rather than obese, the increased risk of T2D in the child is 40%. The study says strategies to reduce obesity and overweight in women of reproductive age are urgently required.

The short-term complications of maternal obesity are well recognised – including gestational diabetes (diabetes in the mother during pregnancy); pre-eclampsia; larger infants and higher likelihood of Caesarian delivery. In addition, there is now an increasing awareness that there are longer term health problems for infants born to obese mothers; for example, increased risk of premature cardiovascular disease and premature mortality.

Previous studies have indicated a link between maternal obesity and diabetes in the offspring, but have been limited in scope – for example by being based on diabetes diagnosis via medication use (thereby excluding individuals who control the condition using diet alone); or by age range. This study, conducted by Professor Rebecca Reynolds, University of Edinburgh, UK and colleagues, examined the link between maternal body mass index (BMI) and the risk of the offspring developing a clinically confirmed diagnosis of diabetes (however treated) right up to adulthood.

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