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High Sugar Levels In Mothers Can Risk Obesity In Child: Study

Lowering a mother's blood sugar during her pregnancy reduces the birth weight of the child.

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Pregnant Women
More complex data collection will paint a more complete picture. Pixabay

Babies born to woman with higher blood sugar levels during pregnancy could be at significantly greater long-term risk of obesity – even more than a decade later, a study has found.

The higher the woman’s blood sugar, the greater the risk of her child being obese.

The researchers suspect that epigenetic changes are likely to be influencing these long-term outcomes and those changes begin quite early in pregnancy.

Pregnancy
Maternal high blood sugar linked to obesity risk in kids Pixabay

“The mother’s blood sugar level during pregnancy is an independent contributor to the child’s weight and risk of being obese later in childhood,” said Boyd Metzger, professor at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

In addition, mothers with higher-than-normal blood sugar during pregnancy — even if not at the level of gestational diabetes — also were significantly more likely to have developed Type-2 diabetes a decade after pregnancy than their counterparts without high blood sugar, the researchers said, in the paper published in the journal JAMA.

Lowering a mother’s blood sugar during her pregnancy reduces the birth weight of the child, as well as the risk of pre-eclampsia — potentially life-threatening condition in which the mother has high blood pressure that affects her and the baby.

Pregnancy
The higher the woman’s blood sugar, the greater the risk of her child being obese. Pixabay

If not regulated on time, these can potentially increase the number of women and children at risk of acquiring lifelong chronic medical conditions.

“The results are important because they demonstrate that even women with mild hyperglycemia during pregnancy and their offspring are at risk of harmful maternal and child health outcomes,” said coauthor Wendy Brickman, associate professor at Feinberg.

“Research is needed to identify interventions that will improve the health outcomes of these women and children,” Brickman said.

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The study evaluated children 10 to 14 years after birth in 10 clinical centers in seven countries: the US, Canada, Israel, the UK, Hong Kong, Thailand and Barbados.

The study included 4,697 mothers and 4,832 children. (IANS)

Next Story

Obesity Can Lead to Brain Damage: Study

According to researchers, this pattern of damage correlated with some inflammatory markers, like leptin, a hormone made by fat cells that helps regulate energy and fat stores

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Brain
"Brain changes were found in obese adolescents related to regions responsible for control of appetite, emotions and cognitive functions," said study co-author Pamela Bertolazzi from the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil. Pixabay

While obesity is primarily associated with weight gain, a new study suggests it triggers inflammation in the nervous system that could damage important regions of the brain.

Developments in MRI, like diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), a technique that tracks the diffusion of water along the brain’s signal-carrying white matter tracts, have enabled researchers to study this damage directly.

“Brain changes were found in obese adolescents related to regions responsible for control of appetite, emotions and cognitive functions,” said study co-author Pamela Bertolazzi from the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) data indicates the number of overweight or obese infants and young children increased from 32 million in 1990 to 41 million in 2016 globally.

For the study, researchers compared DTI results in 59 obese and 61 healthy adolescents, aged 12-16 years.

From DTI, the researchers derived a measure called fractional anisotropy (FA), which correlates with the condition of the brain’s white matter. A reduction in fractional anisotropy is indicative of increasing damage in the white matter.

Brain
While obesity is primarily associated with weight gain, a new study suggests it triggers inflammation in the nervous system that could damage important regions of the brain. Pixabay

The results showed reduction of FA values in the obese adolescents in regions located in the corpus callosum, a bundle of nerve fibre that connects the left and right hemispheres of the brain.

Decrease of fractional anisotropy was also found in the middle orbitofrontal gyrus, a brain region related to emotional control and the reward circuit. None of the brain regions in obese patients had increased fractional anisotropy.

According to researchers, this pattern of damage correlated with some inflammatory markers, like leptin, a hormone made by fat cells that helps regulate energy and fat stores.

In some obese people, the brain doesn’t respond to leptin, causing them to keep eating despite adequate or excessive fat stores. This condition, known as leptin resistance, makes the fat cells produce even more leptin.

Brain
The World Health Organisation (WHO) data indicates the number of overweight or obese infants and young children increased from 32 million in 1990 to 41 million in 2016 globally, having effect on Brain Health. Wikimedia Commons

Worsening condition of the white matter was also associated with levels of insulin, a hormone produced in the pancreas that helps regulate blood sugar levels. Obese people often suffer from insulin resistance.

“Our maps showed a positive correlation between brain changes and hormones, such as leptin and insulin,” Bertolazzi said.

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“In the future, we would like to repeat brain MRI in these adolescents after multi-professional treatment for weight loss to assess if the brain changes are reversible,” she said. (IANS)