Children of diabetic mothers may be at more risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS), a Danish national study suggests.
The study, “Maternal diabetes and risk of multiple sclerosis in the offspring: A Danish nationwide register-based cohort study,” was published in the Multiple Sclerosis Journal.
Previous studies have suggested a three to 10 times increased risk of MS among children born to women with diabetes mellitus — a disease in which blood sugar levels are too high. However, these findings still need to be confirmed.
To shed light on this matter, researchers in Denmark explored the possible mechanism underlying the association between maternal diabetes — diagnosed before conception (pregestational) or during pregnancy (gestational) — and the risk of MS in their children.
Because a possible association between maternal diabetes and the risk of MS in children might reflect shared genetic or environmental risk factors rather than the effects of diabetic exposure during pregnancy, the researchers also examined the risk of MS among children of diabetic fathers.
The nationwide study included 1,633,436 singleton babies born in Denmark from 1978–2008. MS diagnoses were identified in the Danish Multiple Sclerosis Registry, and parental diabetes diagnoses in the National Patient Register. Data was analyzed using appropriate statistical models.
A total of 2,332 cases of MS, 1,634 of which were female, were identified. In an initial analysis, the risk of MS was found to be significantly associated with maternal obesity (65%) and birth weight.
The team identified 16,979 children born to diabetic mothers, 6,809 of whom were diagnosed before pregnancy and 10,170 diagnosed during pregnancy, and 8,239 children of diabetic fathers.
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