The offspring of mothers who used medication for gestational diabetes or type 2 diabetes for more than two months during pregnancy could have an increased risk of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), researchers say.
These findings were reported at the recent European Association for the Study of Diabetes Annual Meeting in Munich, Germany.
Anny Xiang, PhD, Kaiser Permanente Southern California (KPSC), Pasadena, US said that this association seemed to increase with increasing duration of medication use, but acknowledged that further research is needed.
Xiang’s study, which focused specifically on the relationship between type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes with ADHD extracted data from medical records on singleton pregnancies between 1995 and 2009 from KSCP. 85 per cent of the pregnant women in the study were on insulin treatment, and all deliveries occurred between 18 and 44 weeks.
Of the children eligible for inclusio, 20,481 were exposed to gestational diabetes, 3,407 were exposed to type 2 diabetes, and 110,905 had no exposure to diabetes.
The incidence of ADHD was similar in all groups: 3.8 per cent in those exposed to gestational diabetes, 3.9 per cent in those exposed to type 2, and 4.1 per cent in those with no diabetes exposure.
But Xiang explained that children whose mothers were treated with antidiabetic medication had a small but significant increased risk of ADHD.
“The trend was significant both with and without adjustment for covariates, with a 23 per cent increased incidence of ADHD in children whose mothers took antidiabetic medication for over 60 days,” Xiang said.
“We wonder if the increased duration [of use] might be a surrogate for the severity of diabetes during pregnancy and that this might be the surrogate for the increasing risk of ADHD.”
Alexandra Kautzky-Willer, MD, Medical University of Vienna, Austria, who wasn’t involved in the study, added: “These results are interesting, but we cannot say that insulin has a negative effect on offspring. It would be good to know about the hyperglycemic states of patients, which were not actually discussed but might be related to the outcomes.”
Xiang noted that no conclusions should be drawn from this research and that no causal link can be made. Instead, she added, it provides an interesting avenue for future studies to follow up on this investigation.

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