When Diabetes Starts in the Womb
What is the problem and what is known about it so far?
Type 2 diabetes often runs in families. But how diabetes might be passed from one generation to another isn?t quite clear. Some experts think that when a pregnant woman has gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy), high levels of glucose in her blood may make the baby more likely to develop diabetes later in life. Often, gestational diabetes is the first sign of the condition in women.
Why did the researchers do this particular study?
The researchers compared how often women who had parents with diabetes also had gestational diabetes. They wanted to see whether exposure to high levels of blood glucose in the womb makes these women more likely to develop gestational diabetes.
Who was studied?
The study included 535 women whose mothers had diabetes, 566 women whose fathers had diabetes, 77 women with two parents who had diabetes, and 4,672 women with no family history of diabetes.
How was the study done?
Participants had blood tests during pregnancy to see how well they handled glucose and insulin.
What did the researchers find?
Women who had a mother with diabetes were twice as likely to have gestational diabetes as women who had a father with diabetes. Eleven percent of women whose mother had diabetes had gestational diabetes, compared with 5% of women who had a father with diabetes.
Women with two parents who had diabetes were no more likely to have gestational diabetes than women with only a mother who had diabetes.
What were the limitations of the study?
The history of diabetes of the pregnant women?s parents was based on the participants? knowledge and memory, which may not be accurate.
What are the implications of the study?
If gestational diabetes was inherited, it would be more common and occur equally whether it was the mother or father who had diabetes. Because gestational diabetes does not follow that pattern, it is more likely that environmental factors, such as exposure to high levels of blood glucose in the womb, influences whether a woman will develop gestational diabetes.
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