Gestational diabetes linked to worse infant outcomes

Research has shown that babies born to mothers with gestational diabetes are at increased risk of dying and health complications.

Published in Diabetologia, the study analysed 796,346 births in France and found an increased risk of various complications for mothers with gestational diabetes, including a 70 per cent increased risk of pre-eclampsia or eclampsia and a 30 per cent increased risk of babies being born pre-term.

According to the diabetes journal, mothers with gestational diabetes were also more likely to have a caesarean section and there was an 80 per cent increased risk of babies being significantly larger than average.

A 10 per cent increased risk of babies suffering respiratory distress, 30 per cent increased risk of injuries to the child during birth, and a 30 per cent increased risk of heart defects were also noted.

The publication also found that most of the risks were higher in women with gestational diabetes needing insulin treatment, possibly because women with diet-treated gestational diabetes tended to give birth later than those treated with insulin, meaning the unborn child was exposed to higher glucose levels for longer.

Diabetes UK said research of this type could help healthcare professionals tackle risks faced by women with gestational diabetes, saying that ‘the overall risk of complications during pregnancy for these women is relatively low, but we need to eliminate it completely’.

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