Babies are being born addicted to sugar because their mothers eat too much during pregnancy, experts say. And the infants are being forced on to sugary drips just hours after birth to counter withdrawal symptoms.

Experts warn women who develop diabetes while pregnant, or become pregnant while overweight, put the long-term health of their children at risk. Not only do they run the risk of having big babies, their infants may be born 'addicted' to sugar.

Almost half of British women of childbearing age are overweight and more than 15 per cent of mothers-to-be are obese, a report by EU statistics agency Eurostat said recently.
Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists spokesman Patrick O'Brien said babies exposed to huge amounts of sugar in the womb continued to make large amounts of insulin after birth.

"A baby getting too much sugar is producing too much insulin," he says.

"The minute it's born, effectively it is cut off from its mother's sugar supply but keeps on making insulin because its sugar goes too low. Often, these babies have to be fed early or more often they are put on a drip and given glucose."


Others are fed sugar through a tube direct into their stomach.

Gestational diabetes, in which the woman's blood sugar soars, usually develops in the second half of pregnancy and goes away after the baby is born. But it can have serious consequences for mother and child, including raising the odds of birth defects and stillbirths.

Both mother and child are also at a higher risk of developing full-blown diabetes in later life.

"On average, women are becoming overweight in pregnancy and the more overweight you are the more likely you are to get gestational diabetes," Mr O'Brien says.

"The average age of women having babies is older and they are more likely to have diabetes."

Health guidelines say mums-to-be don't need to increase their calorie intake until the last three months, when they need only an extra 200 calories a day -the equivalent of a small sandwich or a small bowl of sugar-free muesli.

"It can have serious consequences."