Women are being urged to maintain a healthy weight before and during pregnancy to prevent children developing diabetes / PA

Gestational diabetes is a form of the condition that emerges during pregnancy

Women should ensure they are not overweight or obese going into pregnancy, a leading charity has said, warning that they may be increasing their child’s risk of developing diabetes later in life.

Diabetes UK said that children born to women with gestational diabetes were six times more likely to go on to develop type 2 diabetes themselves.

Gestational diabetes is a form of the condition that emerges during pregnancy because of hormonal changes. According to the NHS and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists it affects up to one in five pregnancies and the risks are higher for obese women.

Most babies born to women with the condition will be healthy, but Diabetes UK has highlighted a recent study in a small number of teenagers, which showed that 31 per cent of those whose mothers had the condition in pregnancy, developed either type 2 diabetes, or raised glucose levels that brought them close to a diabetes diagnosis.


The charity said that rising numbers of pregnant women developing the condition amounted to a “health time bomb” for the next generation.

Diabetes patients, as well as having to monitor their condition, are at increased risk of health problems such as heart disease and kidney failure.

Barbara Young, chief executive of Diabetes UK, said that gestational diabetes could leave a “frightening legacy”.

“Given that we know being overweight significantly increases risk of gestational diabetes, we need to get across the message to women that making sure they are a healthy weight is important for their child’s health and that this health benefit may stretch many years into the future," she said.

The number of people already living with some form of diabetes in the UK have soared 60 per cent in the past decade, to 3.3m. Figures from Public Health England published last month indicate that another 5m people in England are at a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Management of all forms of diabetes costs the NHS an estimated £8.8bn a year.