You don’t have to have pregnancy diabetes for you or your baby to suffer from high blood glucose level complications. A new study from Stanford University found that high blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia) result in a higher risk of babies being born with heart defects.
Blood samples from almost 300 women were examined and researchers discovered a frightening link: structural heart problems and blood vessels were connected to high blood sugar.
The mother-to-be doesn't even have to be diabetic for the risk to be significant. "We already knew that women with diabetes were at significantly increased risk for having children with congenital heart disease," said Dr. James Priest, author of the study. "What we now know... is that women who have elevated glucose [blood sugar] values during pregnancy that don't meet our diagnostic criteria for diabetes also face an increased risk."
Pregnancy diabetes can contribute to serious complications such as stillbirth, high or low birth weight and a host of metabolic disorders that a child might develop later in life. One of the more serious conditions doctors found linked to high blood sugar is dextrotransposition, a condition in which the main arteries leading from the heart switch positions. This is a critical congenital heart defect that may require various procedures or heart surgery on a newborn infant.
"This new work will motivate us to ask if underlying associations with moderately increased glucose levels may be similarly implicated in risks of some of these other birth defects," said the study's senior author Gary Shaw.