Danish – Chinese study shows pregnant diabetic mothers can risk their children’s eyesight

A new study led by a team of investigators from Nanjing Medical University in China and Aarhus University in Denmark finds that mothers who have diabetes before or during their pregnancy are more likely to have children who grow up developing vision problems before they turn 25 years old. 

Published in Diabetologia (the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes [EASD]), the study analyzed the link between maternal diabetes before or during pregnancy and the risk of high refractive error (RE) which is a condition in which the shape of the eye does not bend light correctly, resulting in a blurred image. RE is also one of the most common forms of visual impairment and includes both long and short-sightedness as well as astigmatism.

During the study, data from almost 2.5 million individuals born from 1977-2016 were analyzed and found that children born to mothers with diabetes were at a 39 percent greater risk of high refractive error before the age of 25 years.

In the study the investigators wrote, “In this nationwide population-based cohort study, we observed that children born to mothers with either pregestational or gestational diabetes were at an increased risk of developing high refractive error in general, as well as specific types of high refractive error, persisting from the neonatal period to early adulthood. Children born to mothers with diabetic complications had the highest risk of high refractive error.”

“Although the 39 percent increased risk is a relatively low effect size, from a public health perspective, considering the high global prevalence of REs, any tiny improvement in this low-risk preventable factor will contribute to a huge reduction in absolute numbers of these eye conditions,” the investigators added. 

Read the full article on the study in Endocrinology Network

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