A mother’s body mass index (BMI) can be used as a predictor for the later development of type 2 diabetes in her children, and is a stronger predictor than genetic data, a recent study has found.
A team of international researchers, including Doctor Matt Sabin from Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, studied over 1800 children for over 20 years, and found not only did maternal BMI predict the later development of type 2 diabetes in offspring, but that the association was independent of other childhood factors, including genetics.
Researchers also found a risk predication model based on both the child and mothers BMI status was more accurate in predicting adulthood type 2 diabetes compared with an approach including only the child’s BMI data. They found no association between the fathers BMI, and the later development of type 2 diabetes in the offspring.
The study showed maternal BMI at recruitment of the child to the study, as well as the child’s own BMI, systolic blood pressure, and genetic risk score for type 2 diabetes were all significantly associated with increase risk. Interestingly, fruit consumption showed inverse associations.
Researcher, Doctor Matt Sabin said maternal BMI is a useful variable in determining a child’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and the insights gained through the study could help identify those most at risk.
“The results from this study provide additional information for clinicians, suggesting that the identification of children at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes as adults could be improved by taking into account the mother’s BMI. Moreover, information on maternal BMI phenotype outperformed genetic data – an important finding given that this information is freely available within a clinical setting,” he said.