August 28, 2002
Question from St. Petersburg, Florida, USA:
My 28 year old daughter, who has type 2 diabetes and is approximately 28 weeks pregnant with her second child, has been told that the baby's heart wall thickness appears to be abnormally increased. Since she is a high risk pregnancy anyway she is being monitored. Her doctors team were not clear on what means, and scheduled her for ultrasound visits. What does this mean for her baby? Other than strict control of her diabetes and prenatal vitamins, is there anything else she can do to help the baby or herself?
Diabetes is strongly associated with heart problems in the fetus, although most babies do quite well. Usually this entails a structural abnormality. Sometimes the structure of the heart is normal, but the muscle is thickened. This may lead to poor pumping function, but it is unpredictable. Therefore, the baby is usually followed by ultrasound during the pregnancy and then evaluated after delivery. If there is genuine concern during the pregnancy, it would be worthwhile obtaining a consultation from a pediatric cardiologist.