Skip to main content

02-07-2020 | Pregnancy | News

Maternal diabetes, obesity may raise risk for neuropsychiatric disorders in children

Author: Claire Barnard


medwireNews: Children born to mothers with diabetes and severe obesity have an elevated risk for developing neuropsychiatric disorders, researchers report.

Catharina Lavebratt (Karolinska University Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden) and team’s findings support an additive effect of diabetes and obesity in mothers on the risk for these conditions in their offspring, with severe obesity in combination with insulin-treated pregestational diabetes conferring the highest risk, followed by severe obesity combined with type 2 diabetes.

The study included 394,302 mothers who gave birth in Finland between 2004 and 2014. Of the 647,099 children born to these women, 5.39% were diagnosed with a psychiatric or mild neurodevelopmental disorder – defined as any International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Conditions, 10th Revision (ICD-10) F code – at the age of 11 years or younger.

The most frequently diagnosed neuropsychiatric conditions in the children were specific developmental disorders (2.77%), followed by attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder or conduct disorders (0.81%), and anxiety disorders (0.73%).

When children born to women with normal prepregnancy BMI (18.5 to <25 kg/m2) and without diabetes were used as the reference group, those born to women without diabetes had a 1.30-fold increased risk if their mothers had moderate obesity (BMI 30 to <35 kg/m2) and a 1.43-fold increased risk if they had severe obesity (BMI ≥35 kg/m2).

And the presence of diabetes increased this risk further. Specifically, children born to mothers with severe obesity and insulin-treated pregestational diabetes had a significant 2.71-fold increased risk for psychiatric disorders compared with the reference group. Offspring of women with severe obesity and type 2 diabetes had a significant 1.97-fold increased risk, while those born to mothers with severe obesity and gestational diabetes had a significant 1.61-fold increased risk.

Within each category of diabetes (insulin-treated pregestational, type 2, and gestational), the risk for developing psychiatric disorders increased with increasing BMI category, and the investigators demonstrated statistically significant interactions between maternal BMI, maternal diabetes, and the risk for offspring psychiatric disorders.

Lavebratt and team conclude in JAMA Network Open that “[t]hese findings may have implications for managing pregnancies.”

medwireNews is an independent medical news service provided by Springer Healthcare. © 2020 Springer Healthcare part of the Springer Nature group

JAMA Netw Open 2020; 3: e1920787


New additions to the Adis Journal Club

A selection of topical peer-reviewed articles from the Adis journals, curated by the editors.

The challenge of type 2 diabetes in children

Who is at the highest risk for developing type 2 diabetes in their youth? 

Supporting people with diabetes during Ramadan

Evidence overview and practical advice for fasting with type 1 or type 2 diabetes