Published on 3 October 2018

Childhood insulin resistance can be affected by mother’s diet during pregnancy.

A study on mothers and their children has found that women who gained either less or more than the recommended weight during pregnancy had children who were more likely to show insulin resistance, which could increase their chances of developing type 2 diabetes.

Children born to mothers whose weight was outside recommended pregnancy guidelines were also more likely to be bigger, and have more body fat and higher blood pressure, compared with children born to women who gained pregnancy weight within the recommended amounts.

Researchers in Hong Kong studied 905 mother and child pairs, with the results recently published in Diabetologia.

Insulin resistance is where cells in the body fail to respond to the hormone insulin, increasing an adult's risk of type 2 diabetes.

For the study, researchers took into account children's weight, height, waist and hip circumference measurements. They also measured body fat and blood pressure, and took blood tests to measure blood glucose and insulin levels.

The study concluded: “Both excessive and inadequate gestational weight gain have independent and significant impacts on childhood adiposity, hypertension and insulin resistance. Our findings support the notion that adverse intrauterine exposures are associated with persistent cardiometabolic risk in the offspring.”

In the UK the dietary guidelines for women during pregnancy from NICE advise that a woman's energy needs increase by around 200 calories a day only in the last 3 months of her pregnancy.

An NHS Behind the Headlines report on the study said: “This study adds to evidence that keeping healthy during pregnancy, with a good diet and plenty of exercise, can give the baby a head start when it comes to its own health.

“There's a pervasive myth that women need to "eat for 2" while pregnant, but that's not true.

“Most women don't need to increase how much they eat or take in many extra calories (though the types of food they eat may need to alter).

“Diet and nutrition are important in pregnancy, and too much weight gain could have implications for the baby.”

Read the report in Diabetologia

Read about healthy eating for women with gestational diabetes in the October 2018 issue of Diabetes Wellness News. For more information and subscription details visit here

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