Effects of Gestational Diabetes on Mother & Baby

Effects of Gestational Diabetes on Baby & Mother

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Sabiha Anjum (Gynecologist/Obstetrician)
View more Gynecologist/Obstetrician Our Panel of Experts

Every pregnant woman wishes for a smooth sailing pregnancy, but sometimes certain health complications may pose a threat to both the mother and her unborn child. Gestational diabetes is one such condition that may cause various complications for both your baby and you. Know more about gestational diabetes and about the risks it may cause to your baby and you.

How Does Gestational Diabetes Affect Your Baby?

It is seen that some women develop diabetes in pregnancy, which is called gestational diabetes. Where some women are able to manage gestational diabetes by managing their diet and lifestyle, others may have to take medicines to get their condition under control. However, under no circumstances, you should take your gestational diabetes lightly as it may lead to some serious complications in your unborn baby. Here are some of the problems that may affect your baby:

1. Large Baby or More Birth Weight

The higher amounts of glucose levels enter your baby’s bloodstream also. The high blood glucose will cause more production of insulin in your baby’s body, which may result in more birth weight in babies. Such babies may have up to 9 pounds or higher birth weight.

2. Pre-Term or Premature Baby

Gestational diabetes might cause preterm labour or lead to premature births. In some cases, the doctor may suggest a preterm delivery because the baby may be gaining too much weight, or the pregnancy complications are too much to handle.

3. Breathing Difficulties

Preterm babies may have breathing difficulties or respiratory distress syndrome. Such babies need extra care until their lungs become mature and stronger.

4. Hypoglycaemia or Low Blood Sugar

Some babies might develop hypoglycaemia or low blood sugar levels soon after birth. This is because their insulin production is high, which may cause seizures in babies. The condition can be brought under control by offering them breast milk or intravenous glucose soon after birth to regulate their blood sugar levels.

5. Affects the Heart

Your gestational diabetes can affect your baby’s heart health, too. It may cause thickening of your baby’s heart muscles or lead to a condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which causes rapid breathing and lack of oxygen in your baby’s blood.

6. The Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

Babies who are born to mothers with gestational diabetes are at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life.

These are some of the complications that may arise in case you do not keep your blood sugar levels in check if you are suffering from gestational diabetes. In some cases, gestational diabetes may lead to certain brain deformities, or it may even lead to stillbirths. If you are wondering if gestational diabetes can affect the baby, the answer is yes. It is very important for you to understand the effects of high blood sugar on the foetus and take necessary actions to prevent it.

Will Your Baby Need Special Care After Birth?

Your baby may need special care after birth. This is because your baby is at risk of having low sugar levels soon after birth, and thus he may have to undergo blood glucose testing. In case the results are abnormal, your doctor will be monitoring your baby closely.

Your doctor may recommend feeding your baby soon after birth to prevent low blood sugar levels. However, in extreme cases, the doctor may recommend intravenous glucose to get your baby’s blood sugar levels under control.

Depending on how the labour and delivery went, the doctor may keep your baby in a neonatal intensive care unit for some time to take special care of your baby under the following conditions:

  • Your baby is born prematurely.
  • Your baby has breathing difficulty.
  • Your baby has low blood sugar or hypoglycaemia.
  • Your baby has other common birth-related complications such as jaundice.

Risk of Gestational Diabetes for the Mother

Risk of Gestational Diabetes for the Mother

Here are some complications associated with gestational diabetes that may affect the mother’s health:

  • If she has gestational diabetes, she may develop type 2 diabetes later in her life. However, dietary and lifestyle changes may reduce her chances of having type 2 diabetes in the future.
  • Gestational diabetes puts her at risk associated with high blood pressure and preeclampsia.
  • She is at a higher risk of having a caesarean delivery.
  • She is more likely to go into preterm labour.
  • She may even suffer from a miscarriage.

Though the risks associated with gestational diabetes may scare you, there is no need to worry. With lifestyle changes, dietary changes and medicines, you can effectively control gestational diabetes and deliver a healthy baby. If you notice any abnormal sign or complication in your pregnancy, it is suggested to seek immediate medical help. Keep in touch with your doctor and keep monitoring your sugar levels.

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