Teenagers with mothers who were diabetic while pregnant could be three times as likely to develop heart disease, scientists have found.
Their warning came after analysing data on more than 290,000 children born to almost 190,000 mothers from 1979-2005.
The research concluded there was a 50 to 200 per cent higher risk of developing heart disease before the age of 35 for those whose mothers were diabetic while expecting.
Teenagers with mothers who were diabetic while pregnant could be three times as likely to develop heart disease, scientists have found [File photo]
Heart conditions and risk factors were also diagnosed two years earlier in these children.
Some of the most frequent health problems among children exposed to the condition in the womb included high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.
The study found 2.8 per cent of the babies were exposed to gestational diabetes – which is when a woman is not diabetic previously but develops high blood sugar levels in pregnancy. The problem usually disappears after the birth of her child.
Another 1.1 per cent of the children in the study in the Canadian province of Manitoba had mothers with pre-existing type 2 diabetes.
Co-author Dr Jonathan McGavock, of the University of Manitoba, said the study supports ‘our hypothesis that cardiovascular disease morbidity in adolescence and early adulthood is related to exposure of maternal diabetes in utero.
‘Using data for nearly all children born in Manitoba over 30 years, we found children born to mothers with diabetes in pregnancy were 30-80 per cent more likely to develop a heart condition.
Some of the most frequent health problems among children exposed to the condition in the womb included high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes [File photo]
‘They were also up to 3.4 times more likely to develop a heart disease risk factor, for example high blood pressure or diabetes.’
The results published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal also found the number of children exposed to diabetes in the womb had increased over the past few decades.
There are nearly 4 million diabetes sufferers in the UK, with one diagnosed every two minutes. The condition can lead to kidney failure, strokes and heart attacks.