Giving birth to a “larger than normal sized” baby puts women at risk of developing diabetes in the future, new research suggests.

Prior studies have identified that mothers who have gestational diabetes during their pregnancy are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life and are more likely to give birth to babies who are large-for-gestational age (LGA).

However, recent findings have discovered that women who do not have gestational diabetes during their pregnancy and give birth to an LGA baby are also at risk of developing type 2 diabetes a decade later.

Newborns that are classified as LGA are 90% heavier than other babies of the same age, the study has reported.

Bigger babies are at a higher risk of needing treatment from an intensive care unit (ICU) and developing health problems as they age, such as type 2 diabetes and obesity, according to the research.

During the study, the team of scientists studied the glucose tolerance of thousands of expectant mothers during their third trimester of pregnancy.

More than 4,000 expecting mothers who took part in the investigative trial did not have gestational diabetes.

Nearly 80% of the participants without gestational diabetes gave birth to an average-for-gestational age (AGA) baby, while 13% had an LGA baby, the findings show.

According to the results, the women who gave birth to an LGA baby were 10% more at risk of developing type 2 diabetes 10 to 14 years after their pregnancy compared to those who had an SGA baby.

They were also found to be 5% more likely to develop the condition later in life than mothers with an AGA baby.

Main author Dr Kartik Venkatesh said: “So often in clinical practice when we see big babies and the individual doesn’t have gestational diabetes, we do not talk about the health consequences for the mother later in life.

“But this research suggests there may also be health consequences for the pregnant person even without gestational diabetes when they have a larger than normal sized infant.”

Dr Venkatesh added: “That’s why it’s so important to follow large groups of people and their babies, regardless of whether they had gestational diabetes or not, over a long period of time.

“The real implication of this research is that we need to stop thinking of pregnancy care as episodic care by making these connections between pregnancy and long-term health outcomes in mothers and children in order to see the bigger picture.”

The study has been published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

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