Babies born to mothers who had diabetes during their pregnancy are at much greater risk of developing heart disease as they reach adolescence and adulthood, researchers have said.

A Canada study has found that exposure in the womb to diabetes had between a 50% to 200% higher risk of developing heart disease before they turned 35 when compared to those who were born to diabetes-free mothers.

Lead author Dr Jonathan McGavock, from the Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba and Associate Professor at the University of Manitoba, said: “These observations support our hypothesis that cardiovascular disease morbidity in adolescence and early adulthood is related to exposure to maternal diabetes in utero.”

The study involved looking at the health data of more than 290,000 children born to nearly 190,000 mothers between 1979 and 2005.

Among the children, 2.8% were born to women who were diagnosed with gestational diabetes during their pregnancy and 1.1% of the kids had a mother who was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes before her she fell pregnant.

A total of 8,713 people who were exposed to diabetes before they were born went on to develop high blood pressure, followed by 3,568 who were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and ischemic heart disease impacted 715 people.

Dr McGavock added: “Screening children within utero exposure to diabetes for cardiovascular disease risk factors might help to evaluate the future burden related to cardiovascular disease in the population.”

The results also found a growing trend that shows the number of children exposed to diabetes in the womb has increased over the past few decades.

The findings have been published in the CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

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