Higher BMI: Mothers with type 1 diabetes have fatter children

Higher BMI in the offspring of mothers with type 1 diabetes

Researchers have found that the risk of obesity and insulin resistance in children of mothers with type 1 diabetes is significantly increased. Therefore, according to a study author, it would be advisable to pay attention to appropriate warning signals in the affected children at an early stage.

Incurable metabolic disease

More and more children suffer from type 1 diabetes. The metabolic disease has not yet been curable. What role does the disease play when the affected people have children? Scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum München and the Technical University of Munich have dealt with this question. In their study, they found that the risk of obesity and insulin resistance in children of mothers with type 1 diabetes was significantly increased.

Higher risk of pregnancy complications

The German Society for Internal Medicine e. V. (DGIM), around every hundredth child in Germany is born of a mother with type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

"The risk of complications is significantly increased in these pregnancies," the experts write in a message.

For example, premature birth occurs in women with diabetes and malformations in the offspring are also more common.

High blood sugar levels with long-term effects

Furthermore, it is known that the risk of type 1 diabetes in children of affected parents is far higher than in the general population, according to a statement by the Helmholtz Zentrum München - German Research Center for Health and the Environment.

"There was also occasional evidence from previous studies that children of mothers with type 1 diabetes also carry an increased risk of the metabolic syndrome, since the occasionally high blood sugar levels in the womb seem to have long-term effects on the metabolism and body weight of the offspring" , explains PD Dr. Andreas Beyerlein.

"We now wanted to put this discussion on a solid data basis," continued the statistician and epidemiologist, who together with Prof. Dr. Anette-Gabriele Ziegler, Institute for Diabetes Research at the Helmholtz Zentrum München and Research Group Diabetes e.V.

Mechanisms of origin of type 1 diabetes

The starting point for her work was three large studies to elucidate the development mechanisms of type 1 diabetes (TEENDIAB, BABYDIAB and BABYDIET).

"In total, we examined the data from almost 2,800 children who had a first-degree relative with type 1 diabetes," explains lead author Anitha Pitchika. "They were examined for metabolism and body weight until they were 18 years old."

Anette-Gabriele Ziegler adds: “These evaluations were only possible in this form with our data records, which contain a sufficiently large number of mothers with type 1 diabetes, who up until a few decades ago were often advised against having children because of the high birth risks at the time has been."

Significantly higher BMI

The researchers noticed that children whose mothers had type 1 diabetes before pregnancy had a significantly higher body mass index (BMI) than children of metabolically healthy mothers.

"The participants in the TEENDIAB study," explains Andreas Beyerlein, "the risk of being overweight later was more than twice as high."

Other values ​​such as hip size, fasting glucose level or the risk of insulin resistance were significantly increased if the mother had type 1 diabetes.

Previously, the scientists had already eliminated possible confounding factors such as the socio-economic status of the mother or a higher birth weight.

Pay attention to appropriate warning signals at an early stage

To find out to what extent the differences were caused by fundamental changes in the child's metabolism, the researchers collected so-called metabolomics data from 500 participants in the TEENDIAB study.

In fact, they were unable to detect any significant changes in metabolic products and pathways caused by maternal type 1 diabetes.

"Our study shows that children of mothers with type 1 diabetes are not only at significantly higher risk for the disease itself, but also for overweight and insulin resistance," summarizes Anette-Gabriele Ziegler.

"It would therefore be advisable for pediatricians to have this connection in mind in the future and to pay attention to appropriate warning signals for the affected children at an early stage."

The study was recently published in the "Diabetologia" magazine. (ad)

Author and source information

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