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Warning on metformin in pregnancy

Wednesday February 28th, 2018

Pregnant women taking the drug metformin may be increasing a baby’s chance of becoming overweight at age four, according to a Norwegian study.

Researchers led by Dr Liv Guro Engen Hanem of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, Norway, studied outcomes for women who took part in previous randomised control trials.

The 161 participants also took part in previous research on polycystic ovary syndrome, in which sufferers were given metformin or a placebo drug, at random, during pregnancy to determine the effect of intrauterine exposure to metformin on growth in the first four years of life. Children whose mothers had taken metformin tended to have higher body mass indexes than the placebo group. Birth weight was unaffected, but weight differences started to appear at six months of age.

The team say that metformin is often prescribed for diabetes, and is being taken by a growing number of pregnant women for gestational diabetes or polycystic ovary syndrome.

Dr Hanem explains that metformin can cross the placenta and is passed to the foetus.

She says: "Our findings indicate the offspring of women who took metformin for polycystic ovary syndrome during pregnancy are more likely to meet the criteria for obesity or overweight than children whose mothers were given a placebo during pregnancy.

“The results were surprising, since limited past research in this area had suggested metformin would have a protective effect on the children's metabolic health."

She added: "Few studies have examined the long-term health of children born to women with polycystic ovary syndrome who took metformin. Our findings indicate more research is needed to determine its effects on children who were exposed in the womb."

Metformin Use in PCOS Pregnancies Increases the Risk of Offspring Overweight at 4 Years of Age; Follow-up of Two RCTs Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 27 February 2018

Tags: Child Health | Childbirth and Pregnancy | Diabetes | Nursing & Midwifery | Pharmaceuticals | UK News | Women's Health & Gynaecology

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