Research has indicated there is an increased risk of obesity for children between the age of nine and 11 years, if their mother had gestational diabetes during pregnancy.
Scientists at Pennington Biomedical Research Centre, Baton Rouge, US, conducted a study involving 7,372 children from 12 countries. The children were between the age of nine and 11 years, with 414 being from India.
Using criteria from the World Health Organisation and the American Diabetes Association to diagnose maternal gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), the researchers found a prevalence rate of 4.3 per cent.
The researchers found a 12.3 per cent prevalence of childhood obesity, an 8.1 per cent prevalence of high body fat, and a 9.9 per cent prevalence of central obesity.
Using computer modelling, they subsequently calculated that for children whose mother had gestational diabetes, there was a 53 per cent increased risk of obesity compared to children whose mother did not have the condition.
The research team said: "The mechanisms by which exposure to diabetes in the womb increases the risk of offspring obesity are not fully understood.
"Exposure to maternal diabetes is associated with excess fetal growth in utero, possibly mainly due to an increase in fetal fat mass and alterations in fetal hormone levels.
"Maternal prenatal GDM may also influence fetal genetics, thereby influencing the expression of genes that direct the accumulation of body fat or related metabolism."
The study was published in Diabetologia.