Gestational Diabetes: Is Your Baby At Risk?

We are adopting a baby from a mother who has gestational diabetes. They diagnosed it yesterday and will induce labor tomorrow. Does this put the baby at risk?

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Peg Plumbo CNM

Peg Plumbo has been a certified nurse-midwife (CNM) since 1976. She has assisted at over 1,000 births and currently teaches in the... Read more

Congratulations.

With good prenatal care, the risks to babies whose mothers have gestational diabetes are minimal. If the mother follows the regimens of diet, exercise and glucose monitoring during her pregnancy, you can expect no real problems.

The reason we screen for this condition at 26 to 28 weeks is so that nutritional counseling can help prevent some of the problems associated with gestational diabetes. Testing later than this does not provide very good care, as many of the complications may already have developed by the time the mother can begin glucose monitoring and diet changes.

If the condition was just diagnosed, and this is close to term, it is possible that the mother was not in good control, and the baby might possibly be larger than expected. Babies gain excess weight when exposed to excess blood sugar. Such large babies may be a problem for the mother to deliver, as the head size usually grows larger than expected (macrosomia).

There is a higher percentage of babies born with congenital anomalies due to the excess blood sugar. It would be wise to reassure yourselves about your baby's health by seeking good pediatric care right away.

After birth, there may be problems stabilizing the baby's glucose, as he or she has been accustomed to great amounts of sugar, which causes the pancreas to produce large amounts of insulin. This is why you sometimes see a rapid drop in baby's blood sugar after birth. These babies occasionally have problems with temperature stabilization during the first few hours or days of life as well.

Most of these problems are short-term. After you get the baby home and he or she has had a pediatric exam, you should not expect any more surprises.

I wish you well with your new baby.

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