A refractive error (RE) is a very common eye disorder. It causes blurred vision and even visual impairment in some cases.
Previous studies showed that severe refractive errors might have links with the conditions the fetus is exposed to in the uterus.
Pregnancy and high blood sugar could be one of the deadliest combos. A continuous spike in the mother’s blood sugar level tends to elevate fetal blood glucose levels as well. This, in turn, can damage the retina and optic nerve of the fetus, leading to refractive errors.
What Did The New High-quality Data-driven Study Cover?
The team conducted a population-based study using several Danish national medical registers. The researchers collected and included the details of all live births in Denmark from 1977 to 2016 and made follow-ups that began at birth and continued until whichever from the following came first.
First high RE diagnosis
- Death of the subject
- 25th birthday of the subject
End of the study period on 31 December 2016
Mothers diagnosed with diabetes either before or during pregnancy and those with pre-gestational diabetes were considered in the study.
A total of 2,470,580 live births have been included in the study. Of these, 56,419 were exposed to maternal diabetes, with 0.9% and 0.3% being type 1 and type 2 pre-gestational diabetes, respectively, and 1.1% involving gestational diabetes
Key Findings of The Study
- Of the 56,419 children exposed to maternal diabetes, 533 was diagnosed with a high refractive error during the follow-up period
- Mothers with diabetes posed a 39% greater risk of high refractive error (RE) compared to mothers without it
- Mothers who had diabetes-related complications posed an 18% increased risk of high RE risk in children
“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 RE in general, as well as specific types of high RE, persisting from the neonatal period to early adulthood. Children born to mothers with diabetic complications had the highest risk of high RE,” concludes the team.
As a real-time solution, the team emphasizes doing an early screening for eye disorders in the children so that their eyesight health can be maintained well. The findings of this study were published in Diabetologia (the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes [EASD])
- Du, J., Li, J., Liu, X. et al. Association of maternal diabetes during pregnancy with high refractive error in offspring: a nationwide population-based cohort study. Diabetologia (2021). – (https://doi.org/10.1007/s00125-021-05526-z)
- New study reveals that children of mothers with diabetes during pregnancy have an increased risk of eye problems