Cognitive and motor development in 3 to 6 year old children born to mothers with Hyperglycaemia first detected in pregnancy in an urban African population

Objectives: Hyperglycaemia first detected in pregnancy (HFDP), on the rise in urban sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), may negatively impact foetal neurodevelopment, with potential long-term cognitive consequences for the child. Data on this association from SSA is lacking, and we aimed to investigate the association in 3- to 6-year-old children in Soweto, South Africa. Methods: In this comparative study, we compared cognitive skills measured with the Herbst Early Childhood Development Criteria test in 95 children born to mothers with HFDP and 99 participants unexposed to maternal HFDP. Fine and gross motor skills were secondary outcomes. Ordinal regression analysis with known confounders was performed for children born at-term. Results Of children exposed to HFDP born at-term, 24.3% scored ‘high’ and 25.7% scored ‘low’ in the cognitive subsection of the test, as opposed to 37.7% and 12.9% in the HFDP-unexposed group, respectively. In ordinal regression, exposed participants had a significantly lower odds of scoring in a higher cognitive category when adjusting for maternal confounders and socio-economic status (OR 0.33, 95% CI 0.15–0.74, p = 0.007). No difference was found in gross motor development between the two groups; differences in fine motor development were attenuated after adjustment for maternal pregnancy factors and household socioeconomic status (OR 0.62, 95% CI 0.28–1.37, p = 0.239). Conclusions: for Practice Exposure to HFDP was negatively associated with cognitive development at preschool age. Optimising maternal (preconception) health and early childhood cognitive stimulation could help more children reach their developmental potential.
Soepnel, L.M., Nicolaou, V., Draper, C.E. et al. Cognitive and Motor Development in 3- to 6-Year-Old Children Born to Mothers with Hyperglycaemia First Detected in Pregnancy in an Urban African Population. Matern Child Health J 26, 1328–1338 (2022).