The risk of common birth complications among infants can be reduced by treating even the mildest form of gestational diabetes among expectant mothers, according to a National Institutes of Health network study.
While treatment of severe gestational diabetes is known to benefit mothers and infants, this study has provided the first conclusive evidence that treating the mild form of the condition is also beneficial.
During the study, the researchers observed that babies born to women treated for mild gestational diabetes were smaller, leaner, and less likely to be overweight or abnormally large.
The researchers say that such babies were also less likely to experience shoulder dystocia, an emergency condition in which the baby's shoulder becomes lodged inside the mother's body during birth.
According to them, treated mothers were also less likely to undergo cesarean delivery, to develop high blood pressure during pregnancy, or to develop preeclampsia, a life-threatening complication of pregnancy that can lead to maternal seizures and death.
"Whether to treat mild gestational diabetes has never been entirely clear. The study results show conclusively that both mothers and infants do better when gestational diabetes is controlled," said study co-author Catherine Y. Spong, chief of the Pregnancy and Perinatology Branch at the NICHD.
A research article on the study appears in the New England Journal of Medicine.