Lower Resting Energy Expenditure and Fat Oxidation in Native American and Hispanic Infants Born to Mothers with Diabetes

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To determine whether exposure to diabetes in utero affects resting energy expenditure (REE) and fuel oxidation in infants.

Study design

At 35 ± 5 days after birth, body composition and REE were measured in full-term offspring of Native American and Hispanic women with either well-controlled diabetes (13 girls, 11 boys) or normal healthy pregnancies (18 girls, 17 boys).


Control of dysglycemia during gestation in the women with diabetes mellitus met current clinical standards, shown by average glycated hemoglobin (5.9 ± 0.2%; 40.6 ± 2.3 mmol/mol). Infant body mass (offspring of women with diabetes: 4.78 ± 0.13, control offspring: 4.56 ± 0.08 kg) and body fatness (offspring of women with diabetes: 25.2 ± 0.6, control offspring: 24.2 ± 0.5 %) did not differ between groups. REE, adjusted for lean body mass, was 14% lower in offspring of women with diabetes (41.7 ± 2.3 kJ/h) than control offspring (48.6 ± 2.0, P = .025). Fat oxidation was 26% lower in offspring of women with diabetes (0.54 ± 0.05 g/h) than control offspring (0.76 ± 0.04, P < .01) but carbohydrate oxidation did not differ. Thus, fat oxidation accounted for a lower fraction of REE in the offspring of women with diabetes (49 ± 4%) than control offspring (60 ± 3%, P = .022). Mothers with diabetes were older and had higher prepregnancy body mass index than control mothers.


Well-controlled maternal diabetes did not significantly affect body mass or composition of offspring at 1-month old. However, infants with mothers with diabetes had reduced REE and fat oxidation, which could contribute to adiposity and future disease risk. Further studies are needed to assess the impact differences in age and higher prepregnancy body mass index.

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