There are several additional risks for diabetic women whose condition is not well managed. Here are the details.
Preeclampsia. About eight percent of all expectant mothers develop high blood pressure, edema (fluid retention), and elevated levels of protein in the urine sometime after the 20th week of pregnancy. Having diabetes is one of several factors that seems to increase the risk for preeclampsia, though its exact cause is not known. Symptoms include
- swollen hands and face (especially upon rising)
- weight gain
- low output of urine
- nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain
- visual disturbances, such as bright flashes in the eyes
A doctor confirms a diagnosis of preeclampsia with blood, urine, and liver tests. The only known cure for the condition is for the expectant mother to deliver the baby. In serious cases, labor may be induced. Hospitalization is usually necessary.
Polyhydramnios. A fancy way of saying excess amniotic fluid around the baby, which can lead to several complications, including preterm delivery.
Postnatal hypoglycemia. A fetus receives oxygen from the mother's blood, which passes through the placenta, an organ attached to the lining of the uterus. Nutrients, including glucose, pass through the placenta, too. If a mother's blood sugar is high, the fetus' will be, too. That explains why babies born to women with high glucose get so fat. But it also means that the developing infant's pancreas will produce lots of insulin to process all that sugar. If the baby's pancreas fails to slow down insulin production after birth, hypoglycemia is a risk.
Preterm delivery. Some complications from elevated glucose during pregnancy can induce early delivery. Premature babies have a higher risk for breathing and heart problems, brain hemorrhages, gastrointestinal difficulties, and poor vision.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
Timothy Gower is a freelance writer and the author of several books. His work has appeared in many magazines and newspapers, including Prevention, Health, Reader's Digest, Better Homes and Gardens, Men's Health, Esquire, Fortune, The New York Times, and The Los Angeles Times.
ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTORS:
Dana Armstrong, R.D., C.D.E., received her degree in nutrition and dietetics from the University of California, Davis, and completed her dietetic internship at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. She has developed educational programs that have benefited more than 5,000 patients with diabetes. She specializes in and speaks nationally on approaches to disease treatment, specifically diabetes.
Allen Bennett King, M.D., F.A.C.P., F.A.C.E., C.D.E. is the author of more than 50 papers in medical science and speaks nationally on new advances in diabetes. He is an associate clinical professor at the University of California Natividad Medical Center and cofounder and medical director of the Diabetes Care Center in Salinas, California.