An expectant mother’s blood sugar levels affect how heavy her baby will be, according to a new study.

Researchers from The University of Manchester and Central Manchester NHS Foundation Trust teamed up to relocate mothers and children from Manchester who participated in a worldwide study more than a decade ago. The initial study helped doctors understand the association between a mother’s blood sugar level and her risk for complications during delivery, and changed medical and public health opinion about blood sugar levels during pregnancy. Researchers conducting the follow-up study hope to learn how high blood sugar during pregnancy increases the risk of obesity in offspring during childhood.

The objective of the original Hyperglycemia and Pregnancy Outcomes, or HAPO study was to examine the association between a mother’s blood sugar level and her risk for adverse pregnancy outcomes. Starting in 2002, the original HAPO study looked at 23,316 sets of mothers and children from ten different countries. Of the participants, 2400 of these mothers were from Manchester.

With funding by the National Institutes of Health in the United States, researchers in this newest study hope to recruit 800 of these original Manchester participants and their children for a single visit HAPO-Follow-Up-Study or HAPO-FUS. During the visit, researchers will measure the participants’ height and weight, blood pressure, body fat and blood fat, insulin, and blood sugar levels.

The researchers hope to gain a better understanding of how elevated blood sugar levels during pregnancy – a condition less severe than diabetes – affect the child’s body fat later in life; during the HAPO-FUS study, children will range in age from eight to 12 years. The researchers also want to know if the mothers developed diabetes after delivering the baby.

Other scientists will perform follow up HAPO-FUS studies in the U.S. and other countries, including Belfast (Ireland), Barbados, Israel, Hong Kong and Toronto (Canada). The information gathered in these studies will help doctors determine the risk factors for obesity early in life then take action to reduce the risks for obesity-related illness, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, in individual patients.

Source: "Researchers Explore How Mothers’ Blood Sugar Levels Influence Child Fat." The University of Manchester. N.p., 13 Dec. 2013. Web. 30 Dec. 2013.