Gestational Complications for Baby
Women who are able to keep blood sugar levels in a safe range during a pregnancy with gestational diabetes dramatically reduce the risk of complications for their child.
Uncontrolled gestational diabetes increases the risk for the following health problems for your baby:
- Macrosomia. The fetus stores excess glucose as fat, so in cases of uncontrolled GDM, a baby may be larger than normal at birth, a condition called macrosomnia. Large babies may be more difficult to deliver vaginally, and birth injury is a risk. A cesarean section may also be required.
- Hypoglycemia. Before birth, the fetus is producing high levels of insulin to combat high maternal blood glucose levels. When the baby is born, he or she is disconnected from the maternal glucose source, and those high insulin levels can cause his own blood sugars to dip dramatically.
- Jaundice. An excessive amount of bilirubin can cause skin and eye yellowing in baby. Jaundice is treated by exposing a newborn to ultraviolet lights.
- Low calcium and magnesium. Insufficient levels of calcium and magnesium in the blood can cause muscle cramps and spasms. This condition is easily treated with supplementation.
- Respiratory distress syndrome (RDS). Gestational diabetes can cause fetal lungs to develop more slowly; if inadequate levels of lung surfactant are present at birth an infant could have breathing problems.
- Increased risk for childhood and adult obesity. Children who weigh nine or more pounds at birth are at an increased risk for later weight problems.
- Increased risk of type 2 diabetes later in life.
1 - American Diabetes Association. ADA Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes—2010. Diabetes Care, Volume 33, Supplement 1, January 2010.
Reviewed by Francine Kaufman, MD. 4/08
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I have a friend, M, who has diabetes and never, ever tests her bloodsugar before she gets behind the wheel. This has always worried me about her. On Wednesday, she had a bad accident after passing out behind the wheel. She hit another car head on. I thank the universe that no one was killed, but she and the driver of the other vehicle were both badly injured. She's got a long healing road ahead of her, as does the woman she hit. I was talking about the...