Use of most-prescribed diabetes drug, metformin, during pregnancy found to increase risk of obesity in the child

According to the results of a study, women who take metformin, a common diabetes medication, could be putting their children at increased risk of being obese or overweight.

More pregnant women with gestational diabetes or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) are taking metformin to treat their conditions. PCOS usually causes infertility, and the condition can put women at risk of developing diabetes and other metabolic health problems.

According to the Hormone Health Network, PCOS affects at least seven percent to 10 percent of women of childbearing age.

When pregnant women with gestational diabetes or PCOS take metformin, the drug crosses the placenta and is passed to the fetus. (Related: Babies in the womb to be administered with anti-obesity drug.)

Dr. Liv Guro Engen Hanem, the study’s first author from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, Norway, explained that based on their findings, the children of women who took metformin for PCOS while they were pregnant have a higher chance of being obese or overweight compared to the children of mothers who were given a placebo during pregnancy.

Dr. Hanem added that the study results were remarkable because earlier studies in the same area implied that metformin “would have a protective effect on the children’s metabolic health.”

For the study, the researchers observed the parents of 292 children who previously took part in two previous randomized clinical trials. In the earlier trials, pregnant women with PCOS were administered either metformin or a placebo during pregnancy.

When the two earlier studies concluded, the researchers went over the body mass index (BMI) and other measurements of the 161 children born after the two earlier studies.

The women who were randomized to metformin during pregnancy had children who were prone to weighing more, especially when they turned four years old. Even though metformin did not seem to influence birth weight, the trend became evident when the children turned six months old.

When the children from the metformin group turned four years old, they had higher BMI scores. They also had a tendency to meet the criteria for obesity or overweight than the children from the placebo group.

Dr. Hanem noted that there were only a handful of studies that looked into the long-term health of children who had mothers with PCOS who take metformin. She concluded that based on their findings, further research is required to verify the drug’s effects on children who were exposed in the womb.

Tips to prevent childhood obesity

If you are worried that your child is in danger of being obese or overweight, follow the tips below to help prevent childhood obesity:

  • Breastfeed for 12 months — Ideally, mothers must breastfeed for at least 12 months or longer because breast milk gives infants all the nutrients that they need. Introducing nutritionally-dense solid foods early is often unnecessary and may cause rapid weight gain, which is connected to obesity among children aged three years old.
  • Limit snack serving sizes and avoid sugary drinks — To maintain a healthy weight, the amount of food an individual consumes must suit their level of physical activity. Parents must control what kind of food their children can eat as soon as they’re old enough to eat solid foods. Children’s stomachs are small, so it is crucial that they receive smaller servings sizes. Avoid sugary juices and soft drinks, which contain unnecessary calories for little to no nutritional gain. Give kids water instead.
  • Be a positive role model — Children learn from watching their parents, so make an effort to be more physically active. Start with eating two servings of fruit and five servings of vegetables. You can also get the whole family together and play a game outside instead of watching T.V.

You can read more articles about how to prevent childhood obesity and pregnancy news at

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