Gestational diabetes

Obesity and gestational diabetes during pregnancy could lead to earlier onset puberty in girls, and consequently make the child more prone to chronic conditions, according to a new study.

Research indicates that American girls are developing earlier now than ever before, and it is thought that this could be to be a result of obesity and the gaining weight of the population.

The concern is that early onset puberty can increase the risk of adverse health effects, such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, and polycystic ovary syndrome.

The research involved 421 girls and their mothers, who were ethnically diverse and part of the Cohort Study of Young Girl’s Nutrition, Environment, and Transitions (CYGNET).

The study’s lead author, Ali Kubo, explained: “Very few previous studies have examined the association between maternal pregnancy or pre-pregnancy factors and the timing of puberty in daughters. Understanding what causes earlier onset of puberty is important in designing prevention strategies…

“Women who are planning on becoming pregnant or are pregnant should be aware that their obesity or gestational diabetes may influence their child’s health in the future, beyond the known risk of childhood obesity.”

It was found, over the course of seven years under which annual clinical visits were enacted in order to measure each girl’s height and weight, that those girls whose mothers had had gestational diabetes or were overweight had 2.5 times the chance of earlier onset signs of puberty compared to girls with healthier mothers.

This study, from Kaiser Permanente, California, found that exposure to gestational diabetes in-utero, and an overweight or obese mother during pregnancy, was associated with earlier arrival of puberty in daughters. Obesity in childhood is thought to bring on early puberty, but in this case, the data was regardless of the girl’s personal weight.