Summary: Higher maternal body fat was associated with weaker cognitive, language, and motor skills in children at age two. The children of mothers who were diagnosed with gestational diabetes showed poorer language skills at age two compared to children of mothers without gestational diabetes.
Source: University of Turku
Maternal gestational diabetes mellitus may have unfavorable effects on the neurodevelopment of 2-year-old children. On the other hand, a mother’s healthy, comprehensive diet supports the child’s neurodevelopment, reveals a new study conducted at the University of Turku.
Mother’s health and lifestyle during pregnancy are important regulators of the child’s neurodevelopment. The mother-child study conducted at the University of Turku and Turku University Hospital in Finland examined how maternal gestational diabetes, obesity and diet during pregnancy affect the neurodevelopment of 2-year-old children.
The research project examined the development of children’s cognitive, language and motor skills. Maternal adiposity was determined by air displacement plethysmography, and gestational diabetes with an oral glucose tolerance test. Dietary intake during pregnancy was assessed with diet quality index and fish consumption questionnaires.
“On average, child neurodevelopment in our data was in the normal range. Our research results showed that 2-year-old children whose mothers had been diagnosed with gestational diabetes had poorer language skills than children whose mothers had not been diagnosed with gestational diabetes,” says Doctoral Researcher Lotta Saros from the Institute of Biomedicine at the University of Turku.
In addition, the study discovered that higher maternal body fat percentage was associated with weaker cognitive, language and motor skills in children.
“Our observation is unique, as previous studies have not examined the association between maternal body composition and children’s neurodevelopment,” notes Saros.
Gestational diabetes and obesity, high body fat mass in particular, have unfavorable effects on the mother’s metabolism and increase inflammation in the body. In fact, these are the likely mechanisms through which the detrimental factors impact the child’s neurodevelopment.
The study also revealed that better dietary quality of the mother’s diet was associated with better language development of the child. A similar finding was also discovered between mother’s fish consumption and child’s neurodevelopment.
The results indicate towards the same conclusion that a good-quality diet contains unsaturated fatty acids that are found, for example, in fish. Soft, unsaturated fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids, promote the neurodevelopment of children.
“A healthy, comprehensive diet during pregnancy can be particularly beneficial for the neurodevelopment of the children whose mothers belong to the risk group for gestational diabetes due to overweight or obesity,” says Professor Kirsi Laitinen who leads the Early Nutrition and Health research group of the University of Turku that implemented the study.
About this maternal diet and neurodevelopment research news
Author: Press Office
Source: University of Turku
Contact: Press Office – University of Turku
Image: The image is in the public domain
Original Research: Open access.
“Maternal obesity, gestational diabetes mellitus, and diet in association with neurodevelopment of 2-year-old children” by Lotta Saros et al. Pediatric Research
Maternal obesity, gestational diabetes mellitus, and diet in association with neurodevelopment of 2-year-old children
Maternal metabolic disturbances and diet may influence long-term infantile neurodevelopment. We investigated whether maternal gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), obesity, and diet could affect the neurodevelopment of 2-year-old children.
Neurodevelopment of children (n = 243) born to mothers with overweight or obesity was assessed with the Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development–Third Edition, and the Hammersmith Infant Neurological Examination. Maternal adiposity was determined by air displacement plethysmography, and GDM with an oral glucose tolerance test. Dietary assessment included diet quality and fish consumption questionnaires, and three-day food diaries, from which dietary inflammatory index (DII®) scores were computed.
GDM was associated with weaker expressive language skills (adj.β = −1.12, 95% CI = −2.10;−0.15), and higher maternal adiposity with weaker cognitive, language, and motor skills in children (adj.p < 0.05). Maternal good dietary quality (adj.β = 0.87, 95% CI = 0.004;1.73) and higher fish consumption (adj.p = 0.02) were related to better expressive language skills. DII scores were not associated with children’s neurodevelopment.
Findings suggest that GDM and higher maternal adiposity may lead to weaker neurodevelopmental skills, although still within the mean normative range in this population of children. Good dietary quality and higher fish consumption during pregnancy could benefit a child’s language development.