Level of risk for infants posed by gestational diabetes higher than previously thought

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A new study looking at post-delivery health outcomes in babies born to mothers with gestational diabetes highlights that the risk probability may have been understated.
Up until now, there were some reports saying that gestational diabetes may induce late-onset development issues in infants. But the level of risk was never clearly established before.
This new study, published in Diabetologia, provides more information about the spectrum of less well-known risks and their timescale.
Researchers here tried to quantify the occurrence of insulin-treated gestational diabetes-related adverse events in almost 800,000 deliveries in France in 2012.
Researchers only assessed risks in mothers at or after 28 weeks of gestation, as previous studies suggested it might be a crucial point in pregnancy when risks from gestational diabetes are the highest.
It also eliminates other risks at early gestation stages that may not be linked to gestational diabetes.
The results of this investigation showed babies from mothers with gestational diabetes had almost double the risk of having growth and development issues like being larger than average (macrosomia).
Perinatal death was shown to rise by 30 per cent after 37 weeks of delivery in the gestational diabetes group of mothers.
Researchers also noted (in descending order) smaller risks of pre-term birth, cardiac malformations, birth trauma, and respiratory distress.
There was an elevated chance that mothers with gestational diabetes had had to receive a caesarean and/or that they’ve suffered from pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure and protein in the urine).
When researchers focused on mothers with gestational diabetes who weren’t at a stage where they needed to use glucose-lowering medication, certain risks (including the risk of death) were not significant at 28 weeks.
This gives an indication of how early it is crucial to monitor closely and intervene in women with gestational diabetes to limit risks passed onto the infant.
However, the study did not control for co-factors that could have influenced hazard ratios, such as the time of diagnosis, body mass index, lifestyle and diet of these mothers.