Recent research, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, may have found a connection between maternal gestational diabetes and the development of diabetes in their children. While gestational diabetes in the mother doesn’t cause the disease in the child, this new study provides evidence that it may increase the risk.

The researchers reviewed data from public health insurance administrative databases from Quebec, Canada—totaling 73,180 randomly selected mothers. After comparing data on mothers with and without gestational diabetes, they found the rate of childhood onset diabetes higher for the kiddos of the gestational diabetes group.

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While the study does show an increased risk for developing diabetes (4.5 children developed the disease per every 10,000 in the mothers with gestational diabetes group versus 2.4 per every 10,000 in the group whose mothers did not have the disease), it’s important to note that the study’s results did not specifically distinguish childhood onset type 1 from type 2 diabetes. Given the typical distribution of the two types of diabetes in children, the researchers did infer that the majority of childhood onset cases were type 1.

So what does this research mean for mothers and mothers-to-be? According to Dr. Kaberi Dasgupta, a clinician-scientist from the Centre for Outcomes Research and Evaluation (CORE) at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, “This link of diabetes in children and youth with gestational diabetes in the mother has the potential to stimulate clinicians, parents, and children and youth themselves to consider the possibility of diabetes if offspring of a mother with gestational diabetes mellitus develop signs and symptoms such as frequent urination, abnormal thirst, weight loss or fatigue.”

—Erica Loop

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