Popular Diabetes Drug May Cause Obesity in Children When Taken During Pregnancy

 In Naturopathic News

Node Smith, ND

A recent research study has concluded that when women take the common diabetes drug, Metformin, during pregnancy their children have a significantly increased likelihood of being overweight or obese.1

Why would Metformin be prescribed?

There are 2 common reasons why a woman might be prescribed Metformin, one is the treatment of gestational diabetes, one of the most common complications of pregnancy. The other is the treatment of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is estimated to affect as much as 10 percent of women of childbearing age.

The trouble with taking Metformin while pregnant is that it does cross the placenta and is passed to the fetus

292 mothers of children who were involved in two previous randomly controlled trials were included in this study. During the two previous trials, women with PCOS were assigned to take either a placebo or Metformin during pregnancy. The researchers subsequently followed 161 children from those studies and measured BMI (body mass index) as well as other measurements.

Metformin group was significantly more likely to meet criteria for obesity

At 4 years of age, the children born to mothers who had been on Metformin during pregnancy, weighed more than other children. The birth weight of both groups was relatively similar, and the trend of weight differences seemed to begin at 6 months. By the age of 4, the children from the Metformin group were significantly more likely to meet criteria for obesity or overweight than other children.

Previous speculation erroneously reinforced idea that Metformin supports the metabolism of the fetus

Previous theory had supported the idea that Metformin may actually support metabolism of the fetus. This study does not support this theory. The conclusion of this study, does not support the use of Metformin during pregnancy.


  1. Engen hanem LG, Stridsklev S, Júlíusson PB, et al. Metformin use in PCOS pregnancies increases the risk of offspring overweight at 4 years of age; follow-up of two RCTs. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2018
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Node Smith, ND, is a naturopathic physician in Portland, OR and associate editor for NDNR. He has been instrumental in maintaining a firm connection to the philosophy and heritage of naturopathic medicine among the next generation of docs. He helped found the first multi-generational experiential retreat, which brings elders, alumni, and students together for a weekend camp-out where naturopathic medicine and medical philosophy are experienced in nature. Four years ago he helped found the non-profit, Association for Naturopathic ReVitalization (ANR), for which he serves as the board chairman. ANR has a mission to inspire health practitioners to embody the naturopathic principles through experiential education. Node also has a firm belief that the next era of naturopathic medicine will see a resurgence of in-patient facilities which use fasting, earthing, hydrotherapy and homeopathy to bring people back from chronic diseases of modern living; he is involved in numerous conversations and projects to bring about this vision.

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