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September 12, 2008

Genetics and Heredity, Inhaled Insulin

Question from Nagamalai, Madurai, India:

Can the newborn baby of a hyperglycemic mother have hypoglycemia? What are the consequences for that baby? Is there any harmful effect for that baby? Is it curable? Is it inheritable?

Answer:

Babies of women with diabetes often have hypoglycemia because the baby’s pancreas has been exposed to the mother’s high sugar levels. The baby’s pancreas responds normally and makes insulin but, when delivery occurs, the baby’s pancreas is still at high levels of insulin production and, thus, has excess insulin and produces hypoglycemia. Early feeding usually stops the problem but it must be recognized. Sometimes intravenous glucose is needed if feeding does not help. Breast milk works fine. Severe or recurring episodes of newborn hypoglycemia are potentially dangerous for the baby’s new/developing brain.

Diabetes is not directly inherited from the mother, but babies could have some gene risks. Known risk is about 2 to 5% for first degree relatives, like sons or daughters, if mom has type 1 diabetes. Diabetes is not contagious so, it cannot be “passed along” like infections to the fetus or newborn.

SB