Diabetes: High blood sugar during pregnancy linked to future health risks for baby

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A new research study – published in the peer-reviewed journal Diabetologia – suggests that high blood sugar experienced by the mother can lead to long-lasting effects once the baby is born. Dr Jiangbo Du, based at Nanjing Medical University, and the research team detailed the health risks. “Children born to mothers with either pre-gestational or gestational diabetes were at an increased risk of developing high refractive error (RE).”

Astigmatism in one eye may cause a lazy eye, where the vision doesn’t develop properly.

“Collectively these conditions are the second most common form of disability globally,” the research paper said.

Low-degree REs can be corrected optically using glasses or contact lenses.

However, more serious REs can develop into “severe and irreversible visual impairment that can reduce an individual’s quality of life”.


One of the main acquired risk factors for developing REs include the growing prevalence of using “close-up devices”.

Examples include computers and mobile phones; as well as a lack of outdoor activity.

“Earlier research has shown that individuals with severe RE may have congenital eye defects before birth,” the authors stated.

This suggests that “the conditions to which the foetus is exposed in the uterus may play a role in the development of more serious RE in later life”.

Most cases of gestational diabetes don’t cause any symptoms, but expectant mothers will be screened for the condition.

If blood sugar levels become “too high” then symptoms might emerge, such as:

  • Increased thirst
  • Needing to pee more often than usual
  • A dry mouth
  • Tiredness.

Gestational diabetes can lead to pregnancy complications and premature birth.

Treatment will involve managing blood sugar levels with your diet, exercising and sometimes insulin.

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