Here are the short term and long term effects of gestational diabetes on the baby.
How does Gestational Diabetes Affect My Baby?
Short Term Effects for the Baby
Short term effects include:
- Macrosomia – 8lbs 13oz or larger
Although a large baby is undesired because it carries higher risks of tearing the mother, and/or getting stuck during birth, large babies can be born without any issue at all.
If you're concerned about a large baby, this podcast is an excellent listen about the statistical evidence of large babies in all pregnancies.
- Shoulder dystocia – shoulders getting stuck during birth
Shoulders getting stuck is a scary problem for everyone; unfortunately, there’s no way to predict or prevent it.
It can possibly cause physical (broken bones) and/or brain damage to the baby. Obviously, it’s a significant medical emergency. For this reason, your doctor will likely suggest a c-section if your baby is measuring large. A c-section is the only way to avoid the issue altogether.
- Jaundice – yellowing of the skin
Jaundice commonly goes away on its own.
- Hypoglycemia – extremely low blood sugar
In most cases the baby is given formula or another source of fast-acting glucose to raise the blood sugar. Their blood sugar will continue to be tested and treated until the baby has back-to-back safe readings.
- Stillbirth – death before or at birth
Each of these effects is possible in non gestational diabetes pregnancies as well, but the risk is higher in gestational diabetic pregnancies.
Long Term Effects for the Baby
Metabolic programming is a concept worth knowing.
Basically, you're programming the baby's metabolism by what you eat.
Exposing the baby to high amounts of glucose without the insulin to counteract it means that their body is getting programmed by an ineffective process.
The result is that the baby is more likely to develop diabetes after birth, whether in infancy, childhood or adulthood.
In fact, 30% of children exposed to gestational diabetes in utero went on to have glucose issues in adolescence.
It’s the same concept as if you were to feed your child candy and dessert all day. You're programming the child's metabolism to react to high amounts of glucose (sugar), but they may not be able to produce enough insulin or their insulin may be ineffective.