In a newly published study, DZD scientists at the Tübingen University Hospital have shown for the first time that gestational diabetes slows the fetal brain response after the expectant mother consumes a meal. In this case already in utero, the fetus may have insulin resistance of the brain, which increases the probability that the child may become overweight later in life and develop diabetes.
Forty pregnant women participated in the study, including 12 who had gestational diabetes. The participants ingested a sugar solution (75 g glucose). One hour after the glucose uptake, the researchers found a significantly slower fetal brain response to the auditory stimuli in the group of women with gestational diabetes (measured by fetal magnetoencephalography). The authors conclude that the mother’s metabolism directly affects the brain function of the fetus and that gestational diabetes may induce insulin resistance in the brain already of the unborn child.
The current state of research on the importance of insulin in the human brain and the effects of insulin resistance there was summarized by the research group in an overview article in the prestigious journal Nature Reviews Endocrinology.
Linder K, Schleger F, Kiefer-Schmidt I, Fritsche L, Kümmel S, Heni M, Weiss M, Häring HU, Preissl H, Fritsche A. Gestational Diabetes Impairs Human Fetal Postprandial Brain Activity. doi: 10.1210/jc.2015-2692. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. October 14, 2015
Heni M, Kullmann S, Preissl H, Fritsche A, Häring HU. Impaired insulin action in the human brain: causes and metabolic consequences. doi: 10.1038/nrendo.2015.173. Nat Rev Endocrinol. October 13, 2015