What Are The Risks For The Baby If The Mother Has Diabetes?

3 min read

When you are pregnant, you are already weighed down by different things that can go wrong with you or/and your baby during the pregnancy. This anxiety is aggravated by many folds if you have diabetes because then there are known risk factors especially in the form of birth defects for your baby. This is enough to send any expecting mom into a panic attack. But the good news here is that by testing and controlling your blood glucose levels religiously before and during your pregnancy, you will avoid many of these risks.
Diabetic woman with doctor

What Are The Different Types Of Diabetes?

When we talk about a “mom having diabetes”, it can fall under one of the two below cases:

  • A woman having Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes before pregnancy. This is called pre-gestational or overt diabetes
  • A woman getting diabetes or high blood glucose levels due to pregnancy. This is called gestational diabetes

Since both conditions are different, the risk factors involved are also different. So let us examine them separately.

What Are The Risks For The Baby If Mother Had Pre-Gestational Diabetes?

This condition is considerably riskier than gestational diabetes, especially if the mom was not actively controlling her blood sugar levels before conceiving the baby. This is because, if mom has diabetes during the first trimester of pregnancy, then the high blood sugar levels get passed on to the baby as he/she is developing all her major organs, thus leading to many birth defects like:

  • Brain and nerve problems
  • Kidney defects
  • Heart defects
  • Prolonged jaundice after birth
  • Respiratory issues / breathlessness
  • Hypoglycemia

What makes this worse is that some of these conditions con be life-long. Apart from the birth defects mentioned above, there is also increased risk of:

  • Miscarriage
  • Premature delivery
  • Still birth
  • Macrosomia (or having a large baby) Read about it here
  • Higher chances of the child getting a diabetes later in life

You can read more about pre-gestational diabetes and tips to avoid the multiple risk factors above .

What Are The Risks For The Baby If Mother Had Gestational Diabetes

This condition is much more common and less problematic than complications arising out of pre-gestational diabetes. This is because, owing to the regular check-ups and blood work-ups done during pregnancy, gestational diabetes in moms can be detected on time and treated promptly. Hormone changes in your pregnancy can make your blood sugar levels go up, and as blood sugar is the primary food source for the baby, the likelihood of having a larger baby increases. This is because the baby stores the sugars as fat deposits in his body.
Diabetic pregnant woman
Once the moms are able to control the blood sugar levels effectively, they can very much have healthy pregnancy and healthy babies. That said, the common risk factors for the baby associated with gestational diabetes are:

  • Baby’s size and weight higher than normal (macrosomia)
  • Hypoglycemia or low blood sugar immediately after birth (due to high insulin presence in blood)
  • Jaundice
  • Respiratory problems, mostly temporary
  • Premature birth

You can read more about gestational diabetes and tips to maintain a healthy pregnancy despite it, here.

What Can I Do To Minimize The Risks For My Baby Due To Diabetes?

Now whether you had pre-gestational diabetes or have gestational diabetes, the key is to monitor and manage your blood sugar levels at all times. The following tips might help you get there:

  • Get a specialist’s help in preparing a diet chart and follow it religiously
  • Check with your doctor and do low to medium impact exercise
  • Walk after every meal
  • Make few positive lifestyle changes that ensures you gain weight in a healthy way during pregnancy
  • Take medications on time

For more information on how to control diabetes during pregnancy, refer to Top 5 Ways To Control Diabetes During Pregnancy.

How Will Gestational Diabetes Affect Me?

You are likely to have some pregnancy complications like a high blood pressure, miscarriage and even still birth. If the baby grows in size the likelihood of having a difficult delivery increases, and you will have a c-section. After the birth, you will run a risk of developing type 2 diabetes. It is absolutely essential for a mother who has diabetes to keep a good watch on lifestyle choices, maintaining an optimal level of diet and exercise.
Hope you have a healthy pregnancy and give birth to a healthy baby!

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