Children of mothers with diabetes during pregnancy have an increased risk of eye problems
A new study published in Diabetologia (the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes [EASD]) finds that mothers who have diabetes before or during their pregnancy are more likely to have children who go on to develop eye problems.
The research analysed the associations between maternal diabetes before or during pregnancy and the risk of high refractive error (RE): conditions in which there is a failure of the eye to properly focus images on the retina.
Earlier research has shown that individuals with severe RE may have congenital eye defects before birth, suggesting that the conditions to which the foetus is exposed in the uterus may play a role in the development of more serious RE in later life. Maternal hyperglycaemia (high blood sugar) during pregnancy may lead to elevated foetal blood glucose levels, which can damage the retina and optic nerve and may lead to changes in the shape of the eyes that ultimately cause RE.
The authors believed that exposure to the effects of maternal diabetes while in the uterus could negatively affect the development of the foetus and lead to high RE in later life. The researchers advise that early screening for eye disorders in the children of mothers with diabetes may play an important role in maintaining good eyesight health.