Mom's high normal blood sugar risky: study
By Karla Gale
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Pregnant women who have blood sugar levels above normal but below those signaling full-blown diabetes are more likely than women with lower blood sugar levels to experience several adverse pregnancy outcomes, new research indicates.
It is well known that high blood sugar levels indicative of the diabetes that occurs during pregnancy present risks for expectant mothers and their infants. The current study is believed to be the first to show that higher blood sugar levels -- not high enough to be considered diabetes -- also convey these increased risks.
In a study of nearly 24,000 pregnant women who had their blood sugar levels tested between 24 and 32 weeks of pregnancy, researchers found that the higher the mother's blood sugar level, the greater the chances that she would require Caesarean delivery and deliver an abnormally large baby.
Dr. Boyd E. Metzger from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, and colleagues also found that the higher the mother's blood sugar levels, the more likely the women were to develop a potentially serious condition called preeclampsia marked by a spike in blood pressure and the more likely their infants were to be born prematurely, and to experience shoulder dystocia -- a condition in which an infant's shoulder becomes lodged inside the mother's body, effectively halting the birth process.
"These relationships are continuous and generally increase incrementally over the range of blood (sugar) levels we saw in the study," Metzger noted in a statement.
The question remains, Metzger told Reuters Health, "at what level of risk should we intervene? That is a big question that can't be addressed by this research."
He noted that a meeting to discuss these issues is scheduled next month immediately following the annual meeting of the American Diabetes Association.
SOURCE: The New England Journal of Medicine, May 8, 2008.