A National Institutes of Health network study provided the first conclusive evidence that treating pregnant women who have even the mildest form of gestational diabetes can reduce the risk of common birth complications among infants, as well as blood pressure disorders among mothers.
Treatment of severe gestational diabetes is known to benefit mothers and infants. Although treatment is routinely prescribed for all women with gestational diabetes, before the current study, there was no evidence to show whether treating the mild form of the condition benefited, or posed risks for, mothers or their infants.
The researchers found that, compared to the women's untreated counterparts, women treated for mild gestational diabetes had smaller, leaner babies less likely to be overweight or abnormally large, and less likely to experience shoulder dystocia, an emergency condition in which the baby's shoulder becomes lodged inside the mother's body during birth. Treated mothers were also less likely to undergo cesarean delivery, to develop high blood pressure during pregnancy, or to develop preeclampsia, a life-threatening complication of pregnancy that can lead to maternal seizures and death.
The study was conducted by researchers in the Maternal Fetal Medicine Units Network of the NIH's Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human (NICHD) and appears in the Oct. 1 New England Journal of Medicine. The study's first author was Mark Landon of Ohio State University.
"Whether to treat mild gestational diabetes has never been entirely clear," said study coauthor Catherine Y. Spong, chief of the Pregnancy and Perinatology Branch at the NICHD. "The study results show conclusively that both mothers and infants do better when gestational diabetes is controlled."
In addition to funding from the NICHD, the study was also supported by the NIH's National Center for Research Resources.
|Contact: Robert Bock|
NIH/National Institute of Child Health and Human Development