Study looks at how mom's metabolism affects baby's long term health

Study looks at how mom's metabolism affects baby's long term health
Updated: Feb. 6, 2018 at 9:30 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Parents will do anything to make sure their child is safe, healthy, and happy. For Albany mom, Tara Williams, and her 2-month-old son, Dexter, that meant starting before he was even born.

"We all worry about our children's health and so when you're upset about you having gestational diabetes, you're worried about what they're going to experience in their future," said Williams.

Williams had gestational diabetes while pregnant with Dexter, and has a family history of diabetes. Doctors know that can cause a lot of problems for a pregnant mother and her unborn child, including a large birth weight. However, researchers at Pennington Biomedical Research Center are now studying how gestational diabetes can affect a child's health after birth. It's called the IMAGINE Study.

"Typically, these diseases, metabolic diseases, diabetes, obesity, are looked on in the later stages of life. This is a really new concept of a looking on these diseases really early on in life," said researcher, Dr. Nicholas Broskey.

As part of the study, Williams went through an exam with doctors at Pennington before she gave birth. After birth, her son went through his own special checkup where doctors measured his metabolism after a meal to see how his body processed carbohydrates and fats.

Broskey explains the goal of the study is to understand how gestational diabetes influences the health of the child early on. "Infants aren't typically diagnosed with having diabetes, but they do have symptoms of higher levels of sugar in the blood for example," said Broskey. "So if we know this happening with the case of gestational diabetes, we can inform interventions early on in life where these children to help prevent the disease later on."

Researchers believe by understanding how a child may be affected early in life, they can help prevent a child from developing more serious diseases like obesity or diabetes later in life. That's knowledge Williams says would be invaluable to parents.

"I would like to know how we can prevent in them, so they can be healthier in general," said Williams.

The IMAGINE study is still looking for participants. If you are interested in finding out more or seeing if you quality for the study, click here.

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