People whose mothers had diabetes before or during pregnancy are at increased risk of developing heart disease as young adults. The risk was evident both for children of mothers with pre-existing type 2 diabetes and for children whose mothers developed gestational diabetes during pregnancy.
The study in the journal CMAJ included 293,546 people born to mothers in Manitoba between 1979 and 2005. Almost 3 percent had gestational diabetes and 1.1 percent had maternal type 2 diabetes. The scientists tracked the health of the offspring until they were 35 years old.
They found that after adjusting for other factors, exposure to gestational diabetes was associated with a 27 percent increased risk of a cardiovascular event – heart attack, cardiac arrest, coronary artery disease, or stroke. The group also had an 85 percent higher chance of having a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes.
The risks were even greater in people whose mothers already had diabetes: a 48 percent increased risk of a cardiovascular event and more than three times the risk of a risk factor for cardiovascular disease compared to people whose mothers were non-diabetic .
"The risk of heart disease is not just increased in people exposed to maternal diabetes," said lead author Jonathan McGavock, associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Manitoba. This increases the lifelong risk of heart disease. "