Baby's Risk of Heart Defect Increases With Mom's Blood Sugar

Moms who have high blood sugar levels during pregnancy are more likely to have babies with heart defects, according to a new study.

Researchers from Stanford University analyzed blood samples from 277 women during their second trimester of pregnancy, finding that high blood sugar - even in women who don't have diabetes - was linked to structural problems in the heart, as well as the blood vessels connecting the heart to the lungs.

"We already knew that women with diabetes were at significantly increased risk for having children with congenital heart disease," said Dr. James Priest, study author and a postdoctoral scholar in pediatric cardiology at Stanford. "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."

Other birth problems

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, high blood sugar during pregnancy can cause complications during delivery, stillbirth, high or low birth weight, jaundice and metabolic disorders in the offspring later in life.

The current study also found that some babies of women with high blood sugar were born with a condition called dextrotransposition, where the two main arteries leading from the heart have switched positions.

Most of the time it's unclear what causes a baby's heart defect, Priest said, but the new findings suggest there are other areas of research to consider when it comes to these complications.

"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 senior author Gary Shaw.

The study is published in JAMA Pediatrics.

Source: Web MD

Image courtesy of adamr/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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