THURSDAY, Aug. 19, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Exposure to maternal diabetes during pregnancy is associated with an increased risk for high refractive error (RE) in offspring, according to a study published online Aug. 17 in Diabetologia.

Jiangbo Du, M.D., Ph.D., from the Nanjing Medical University in China, and colleagues conducted a nationwide register-based cohort study comprising 2,470,580 individuals born in 1977 to 2016 to examine the correlation between maternal diabetes and the risk for high RE in offspring from birth to age 25 years.

The researchers found that 553 offspring of mothers with diabetes and 19,695 offspring of mothers without diabetes were diagnosed with high RE during up to 25 years of follow-up. Prenatal exposure to maternal diabetes correlated with an elevated risk for high RE (hazard ratio, 1.39). Elevated risks were seen for hypermetropia, myopia, and astigmatism (hazard ratios, 1.37, 1.34, and 1.58, respectively). Offspring of mothers with diabetic complications had more pronounced increased risks (hazard ratio, 2.05) compared with the risks seen for offspring of mothers with diabetes but without diabetic complications (hazard ratio, 1.18).

“Although the 39 percent increased risk is a relatively low effect size, from a public health perspective, considering the high global prevalence of REs, any tiny improvement in this low-risk preventable factor will contribute to a huge reduction in absolute incidence of REs,” the authors write.

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