Children exposed to gestational diabetes in utero have reduced physical activity and fruit intake compared with children not exposed to gestational diabetes, according to study results published in Diabetes & Metabolic Syndrome: Clinical Research & Reviews.

The results indicated that improving lifestyle habits among children exposed to gestational diabetes can prevent poor adiposity values.

The study included children aged 2 to 14 years, 105 of whom had been exposed to gestational diabetes (mean age, 5.9 years; 50.5% boys) and 38 who were unexposed (mean age, 6.8 years; 42.1% boys). The researchers used two 24-hour dietary recalls to assess vegetable and fruit intake. Accelerometers were used to measure physical activity and sedentary time. They also used questionnaires to assess the children’s screen and sleep time. The researchers measured weight, height, and waist circumference and used dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry to assess body composition.

Compared with children who were not exposed to gestational diabetes, children exposed in utero had lower moderate-to-vigorous physical activity practice (P =.043) and fruit intake (P =.02). Sedentary time, screen time, and sleep were similar between groups.

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Among children with an unhealthy lifestyle (meeting 0-2 lifestyle recommendations), those who were exposed to gestational diabetes had a greater percentage of fat mass (P =.021) and android fat mass (P =.02) compared with those who were not exposed in utero.

For children exposed to gestational diabetes, those with a healthy lifestyle (meeting 3-4 lifestyle recommendations) had lower percentages of fat mass (P =.053) and android fat mass (P =.071) compared with those with an unhealthy lifestyle.

“The adoption of healthy lifestyle habits, through increased consumption of vegetables and fruit, increased duration of physical activity and sleep time, and reduced duration of screen time, could represent a promising approach to prevent deteriorated adiposity values among this high-risk population,” the researchers wrote.

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Reference

Bélanger M, Dugar C, Perron J, et al. Association between lifestyle habits and adiposity values among children exposed and unexposed to gestational diabetes mellitus in utero. Diabetes Metab Syndr. 2019;13(5):2947-2952.