Gestational Diabetes

How Diabetes Affects You and Your Baby

Glucose in a pregnant woman’s blood passes through to the baby. If your blood glucose level is too high during pregnancy, so is your baby’s glucose level before birth.

High blood glucose levels before and during pregnancy can

  • Contribute to the mother’s diabetes complications, such as eye problems, heart disease, and kidney disease
  • Increase potential problems for your baby including: premature birth, weighing too much, having breathing problems or low blood glucose right after birth
  • Increase the risk of losing your baby through miscarriage or stillbirth
  • Increase the risk of your baby having birth defects. However, research has shown that when women with diabetes keep blood glucose levels under control before and during pregnancy, the risk of birth defects is about the same as in babies born to women who don’t have diabetes.

Having diabetes can also increase your chances of developing the following conditions:

  • Preeclampsia causes high blood pressure and excess protein in the urine and can be life-threatening to you and your baby. The only “cure” for preeclampsia is to give birth. If you develop preeclampsia early in your pregnancy you may be put on bed rest and medicines, or even have to be hospitalized, to allow your baby time to grow before delivery. If you develop preeclampsia late in your pregnancy, you may need to deliver your baby early through a common surgical procedure called a cesarean section, or c-section.
  • Depression is a potential issue for all people with diabetes but pregnant women with diabetes need to be vigilant about depression because it can cause you to lose good glucose management and control.

How can diabetes affect my baby’s health?

High blood glucose levels can cause the baby to grow very large (9 pounds or more). Being very large makes it hard for the baby to be born through the birth canal. Blood sugar that remains high in a pregnant woman can also cause her baby to have the following health problems:

  • Birth defects, especially of the brain, spine, and heart
  • Nerve damage to the baby’s shoulder during delivery
  • Low blood sugar after birth
  • Increased chance of overweight, obesity, and/or diabetes later in life

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