A team of French researchers analyzed data from more than 700,000 births in France occurring after 28 weeks of pregnancy in 2012.
Compared to other pregnant women, those with gestational diabetes were 30 percent more likely to experience preterm birth, 40 percent more likely to require a C-section, and 70 percent more likely to have preeclampsia/eclampsia, a dangerous spike in blood pressure.
Risks weren’t confined to the mother, however. Babies born to women with gestational diabetes were 80 percent more likely to be of significantly larger-than-average size at birth; 10 percent more likely to suffer respiratory issues; 30 percent more likely to experience a traumatic birth, and 30 percent more likely to have heart defects, the study found.
Babies born after 37 weeks to women with gestational diabetes also had an increased risk of death, compared to babies born to women without the condition, the study authors said.
The study clearly shows that gestational diabetes “is a disease related to adverse pregnancy outcomes,” concluded a team led by Dr. Sophie Jacqueminet, of the Pitie-Salpetriere Hospital in Paris.
Two experts in diabetes care weren’t surprised by the findings, and they noted that while a woman’s weight isn’t always a factor, the odds for gestational diabetes go up in the obese.
“Gestational diabetes is a dangerous entity, and the child is at risk,” said Dr. Robert Courgi, an endocrinologist at Northwell Health’s Southside Hospital, in Bay Shore, N.Y.
“As obesity increases, so does [the risk of] diabetes,” he added. “We need to do a better job at diagnosing and treating gestational diabetes.”
The study also found that the risk of death was 30 percent higher among babies born to women whose gestational diabetes was treated with a special diet. There was no increased risk of death among babies born to women whose gestational diabetes was treated with insulin, however.