Gestational diabetes (GD) a common complication of pregnancy and can affect both the mother and the baby. However, most women who have gestational diabetes can deliver healthy babies with proper treatment and well controlled blood sugar. But if the blood sugar is not well controlled it can cause problems for you and your baby.
Complications that may occur in your Baby
- Excessive birth weight: The excess blood glucose in the mother’s bloodstream crosses the placenta, and stimulates the baby's pancreas to make more insulin. This causes the baby to grow too large (macrosomia). Due to this, the risk of complications during vaginal delivery such as becoming wedged in the birth canal, and birth injuries are increased.
- Preterm birth: The high blood sugar increases the risk of preterm labour (that is start of labour before the due date) and delivery of baby before its due date. If the baby is growing very large, the doctor may recommend an early delivery.
- Respiratory distress syndrome: The risk of preterm delivery is increased in women with GD. Babies born before term may experience respiratory distress syndrome. In this condition, breathing becomes difficult for the baby due to the immaturity of lungs. The condition is likely to be more severe in babies who are born well before the expected due date. Some term babies born to women with GD may experience respiratory distress syndrome (RDS). If the baby has RDS, he may need help breathing until the lungs mature and become stronger.
- Low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia): The risk of low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia) shortly after birth is higher in babies born to women with GD as their insulin production is high. If the blood sugar becomes too low it may lead to seizures in the baby. Care regarding feedings and administering intravenous glucose solution if needed can help to maintain the baby's blood sugar level.
- Jaundice: Newborns are at risk of jaundice (yellowish discolouration of the skin and the whites of the eyes) as their liver isn't mature enough to break down a substance formed in the body called bilirubin. Bilirubin is formed because of the destruction and recycling of old or damaged red blood cells. The risk of jaundice is higher in babies born to women with GD.
- Type 2 diabetes later in life: Studies indicate that the risk of developing obesity and type 2 diabetes later in life is increased in babies of mothers with gestational diabetes.
- Neonatal death: The risk of death either before or shortly after birth is higher in babies born to women with untreated or poorly controlled gestational diabetes.
Complications that may affect You
- Delivery by C-section: There is increased likelihood of needing delivery by C-section in women who have GD.
- High blood pressure, preeclampsia and eclampsia: Women who have GD are at higher risk of developing high blood pressure during pregnancy. The risk of preeclampsia and eclampsia is also increased. Both are serious complications of pregnancy which cause rise in blood pressure and other symptoms which increase the risk of complications and mortality for the mother and the baby.
- Future diabetes: Women with gestational diabetes are at higher risk of GD in subsequent pregnancies and developing diabetes later in life. According to some studies, about 40 percent women with gestational diabetes develop type 2 diabetes later on. However, lifestyle changes such as eating healthy foods, exercising regularly and trying to remain at a healthy weight can help reduce the risk of future GD and type 2 diabetes.
Check more articles on Gestational Diabetes