Objective: To determine, among children with normal birth weight, if maternal hyperglycemia and weight gain independently increase childhood obesity risk in a very large diverse population.
Methods: Study population was 24,141 individuals (mothers and their normal birth weight offspring, born 1995-2003) among a diverse population with universal GDM screening [50-g glucose-challenge test (GCT); 3 h. 100 g oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) if GCT+]. Among the 13,037 full-term offspring with normal birth weight (2500-4000 g), annual measured height/weight was ascertained between ages 2 and 10 years to calculate gender-specific BMI-for-age percentiles using USA norms (1960-1995 standard).
Results: Among children who began life with normal birth weight, we found a significant trend for developing both childhood overweight (>85 %ile) and obesity (>95 %ile) during the first decade of life with both maternal hyperglycemia (normal GCT, GCT+ but no GDM, GDM) and excessive gestational weight gain [>40 pounds (18.1 kg)]; p < 0.0001 for both trends. These maternal glucose and/or weight gain effects to imprint for childhood obesity in the first decade remained after adjustment for potential confounders including maternal age, parity, as well as pre-pregnancy BMI. The attributable risk (%) for childhood obesity was 28.5 % (95 % CI 15.9-41.1) for GDM and 16.4 % (95 % CI 9.4-23.2) for excessive gestational weight gain.
Conclusions for Practice: Both maternal hyperglycemia and excessive weight gain have independent effects to increase childhood obesity risk. Future research should focus on prevention efforts during pregnancy as a potential window of opportunity to reduce childhood obesity.
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