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March 6, 2001

Gestational Diabetes

Question from Hollywood, California, USA:

I have read statistics that babies of women with gestational diabetes have a higher risk of fetal demise, stillbirth, or perinatal death, especially if the mother is taking insulin. I have searched far and wide for the reasons why this might be. I want to understand my risks and how I can monitor them. Any information would be greatly appreciated.


The risks to the baby in mothers with gestational diabetes are probably not the same as in a mother with preexisting diabetes (especially those with vascular disease). The use of insulin implies that insulin resistance is particularly high, and this may have some effect on placental function, although the mechanism involved is not well understood. With close fetal surveillance, the risk of death decreases to almost that of a woman without diabetes.