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An infant of a mother with diabetes is a baby who is born to a mother with diabetes. Because the mother has diabetes, the baby is at risk for problems.
People with diabetes have high levels of sugar in their blood (hyperglycemia). Over time, this can lead to serious health problems. Keeping your blood sugar under control lowers your risk for complications. You can manage diabetes by eating a nutritious diet, getting regular exercise, and taking medicine.
Two types of diabetes can happen in pregnancy. These are:
It’s important to manage your blood sugar during pregnancy. This can lower your baby’s risk for problems.
In pregnancy, the placenta gives a growing baby nutrients and water. It also makes hormones you need for healthy pregnancy. Some of these hormones can block insulin. This often starts at 20 to 24 weeks of pregnancy.
As the placenta grows, it makes more of these hormones. This means that the pancreas must make more insulin. Normally, the pancreas is able to make enough insulin. If it doesn’t, gestational diabetes occurs.
Pregnancy may also change the insulin needs of a woman who already has diabetes. If you have type 1 diabetes, you may need more insulin. If you have type 2 diabetes, you may need to start using insulin or you may need more insulin.
An infant of a woman with diabetes is at risk for many problems. These issues can happen in pregnancy and after birth. The problems happen when your blood sugar isn’t controlled well.
The following factors increase your risk for gestational diabetes:
During pregnancy, the following can happen to your baby:
The following problems may happen to your baby after he or she is born:
Your doctor will check you for diabetes during pregnancy.
If you have risk factors for type 2 diabetes, such as being overweight, your doctor will check you early in pregnancy. Your doctor may test you during your first checkup.
Your healthcare provider will screen you for gestational diabetes between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy. This screening is done using an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT). An OGTT checks a woman's blood sugar levels after she has sugar (glucose). You may have one of these tests:
During pregnancy, your healthcare provider will watch you and your baby closely. You may be treated by a specialist who cares for pregnant women with diabetes.
Controlling your blood sugar levels is a must. This is the best way to reduce your baby’s risks. You’ll likely need to do the following to care for your diabetes:
Your baby’s treatment depends on how well you controlled your blood sugar in the last part of pregnancy and during labor and delivery. Treatment will also depend on your child’s symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.
Your baby’s healthcare provider may draw his or her blood. This will check your baby’s blood sugar, blood calcium, and other levels. This may be done through a heel stick, a needle in your baby's arm, or an umbilical catheter (a tube placed in your baby's umbilical cord).
Your baby may need a glucose and water mixture as an early feeding. Or your baby may need glucose given into a vein (intravenously or IV). Your baby’s healthcare provider will closely watch his or her blood sugar levels. This is done in case your baby’s blood sugar levels drop too low.
Your baby may need oxygen or a breathing machine to breathe better.
Your child may need extra care if he or she has birth defects or injuries. Your child may need to see a specialist. This depends on his or her condition.
Caring for your diabetes well can lower your baby’s risks. Eating a nutritious diet, testing your blood sugar, and taking insulin can help you care for your condition.
Having gestational diabetes raises your risk for diabetes later in life. If you had gestational diabetes, your healthcare provider will test you for diabetes after you give birth. This is often done 6 to 12 weeks after your baby is born. Your healthcare provider will continue to check you for diabetes because of your risk.
After birth, your child’s healthcare provider should also regularly check him or her for diabetes. An early diagnosis and treatment can lower his or her risk for problems.
Two types of diabetes can happen in pregnancy. One is gestational diabetes and the other is pre-gestational diabetes.
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your child’s healthcare provider:
Bayhealth is Southern Delaware’s healthcare leader with hospitals in Dover and in Milford. Bayhealth provides a wide range of medical services, including cardiovascular, cancer, orthopaedics and rehabilitation, pediatrics, respiratory care, sleep care, surgical weight loss and women’s services.