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Gestational Diabetes (GDM) and Child Obesity - what is the link?

Diabetes and obesity in pregnant mums

Obesity in the mother is more common than GDM. While one in five women enter pregnancy obese, 4-6% develop Gestational Diabetes. As maternal obesity predisposes the baby to childhood obesity, optimising pre-pregnancy weight is recommended.

Risk of childhood obesity

Childhood obesity is associated with GDM. High sugar levels in the pregnant mother result in higher insulin hormone levels in the developing baby, which increases fat deposits. This leads to impaired glucose metabolism and insulin resistance in the child. Thus, high maternal glucose concentration puts the child at higher risk of overweight at 3 years of age. Even at 16 years of age, 40% of children of mothers with GDM were overweight, compared with 8% among normal weight mothers.

This link between GDM and child obesity is due to fetal genetic programming and/or shared environments, such as postnatal diet and physical activity.

Maintain a healthy pre-pregnancy weight

If you are trying to conceive, I would encourage you to aim for a weight within the normal body mass index of 18.5-22.9kg/m2. Try increasing your physical activity and consult a clinical dietitian to optimize your diet. Remember: a healthy baby begins with a healthy mother!

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