London - Obese pregnant women are more than three times as likely to have a baby who will develop type two diabetes in later life, a study has found.
These babies are exposed to high levels of sugar, insulin and hormones in the womb. Experts believe this "over-nutrition" while a baby is still developing alters their metabolism.
Scientists from the University of Edinburgh tracked 118 000 Scottish children born between 1950 and 2011.
The research, published in medical journal Diabetologica, found babies whose mothers had been obese while pregnant – defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of more than 30 – were 3.5 times as likely to develop type two diabetes.
Dr Emily Burns, head of research communications at Diabetes UK, said: "This research adds to growing evidence that the time we spend in the womb can shape our future health."
The research comes after a warning earlier this week that obese women are frequently injuring midwives while giving birth because they are too heavy.
Professor Janice Rymer, vice president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said that treating obese pregnant women is "physically very demanding" and usually involves lots of "huffing and puffing".