Dr. Lam explains how diabetes can affect a woman while pregnant and if it is a hereditary condition.
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How Diabetes Affects Pregnancy Well diabetes in pregnancy is actually one of the more common coexisting diseases that we deal with, with a pregnant mom. Diabetes overall can cause issues such as macrosomia, which is where the baby grows too big, or in severe cases of poorly controlled diabetes, they can actually affect placental function and those babies can become IGR or intrauterine growth restricted. Moms who have very poor control of their diabetes are also up to 30% greater risk of having congenital fetal defects, for example, heart defects are very common in infants of diabetic mothers and in very, very severely out of control diabetics, they can actually have what’s called caudal regression or failure to actually develop the lower half of the body of these babies. For women who do not have good control of their blood sugars, they can actually also have an increased risk for intrauterine death before delivery, and for moms who have moderately well controlled diabetes but still high blood sugars, that can still lead to issues what’s called neonatal hypoglycemia whereby the baby can drop its blood sugars precipitously after delivery because it’s used to receiving such high blood sugars from mom that its own pancreas produces excess insulin. And then, when the baby is delivered and cut off from the umbilical cord, the baby’s pancreas keeps producing all the insulin, which basically uses up all the sugar stores within the baby itself and therefore causes the baby to have very low blood sugars, and that could be an issue in the immediate postpartum period. Not necessarily. There certainly are genetic predispositions for diabetes, so if you have a family history of diabetes yes, unfortunately you and your baby are going to be more likely to have diabetes than somebody that doesn’t have a strong family history. However, the impact of the environment has just as much to do as genetics and if a woman or her child is able to avoid obesity or be on good diets and have careful control and observation of blood sugars they may be able to hold off on developing diabetes themselves.