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Obesity and gestational diabetes in mothers linked to early onset of puberty in daughters

According to a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, daughters of overweight mothers, who develop gestational diabetes, are significantly more likely to experience earlier onset of one or more signs of puberty.

The study was based on long-term research of an ethnically diverse sample of girls and their mothers. The girls were followed from 2005 to 2012 with yearly clinic visits where their heights, weights and other parameters were measured and recorded. The researchers found that girls whose mothers were overweight before their pregnancy and who had gestational diabetes were 2.5 times more likely to have earlier onset of pubic hair development than their peers whose mothers were not overweight during pregnancy and who did not have gestational diabetes.

Ai Kubo, MPH, PhD, the study’s lead author and an epidemiologist at the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research, explained that “very few previous studies have examined the association between maternal pregnancy or pre-pregnancy factors and the timing of puberty in daughters. Understanding what causes earlier onset of puberty is important in designing prevention strategies”. Kubo highlighted that “women who are planning on becoming pregnant or are pregnant should be aware that their obesity or gestational diabetes may influence their child’s health in the future, beyond the known risk of childhood obesity.”

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