A new study has revealed that pregnant women with elevated blood sugar levels are more likely to have babies with congenital cardiovascular defects, even if their blood sugar is below the cut off for diabetes.
Lead author James Priest of the Stanford University Medical Center said that this new research showed that women who have elevated glucose values during pregnancy that don’t meet our diagnostic criteria for diabetes also face an increased risk.
In the study, the researchers examined blood samples taken from 277 California women during the second trimester of pregnancy. The control group comprised 180 women carrying infants without congenital heart disease. The others had infants affected by one of two serious heart defects.
Fifty-five infants had Tetralogy of Fallot, in which a baby is getting too little oxygen and the remaining 42 infants had dextrotransposition of the great arteries, in which the positions of the two main arteries leading from the heart are swapped, preventing oxygenated blood from the lungs from circulating to the body.
The blood samples were collected at different times of the day, and the women were not asked to fast before sample collection.
They found higher glucose levels were correlated with the odds of having a baby with tetralogy of Fallot, but not with dextrotransposition of the great arteries.
Priest said that glucose has to act via some mechanism, adding that cell’s machinery for handling glucose overlaps with important developmental signaling mechanisms, such as the insulin-like growth factor receptors.
Priest concluded that most of the time doctors don’t have any idea what causes a baby’s heart defect and said that he aims to change that.
The study is published in the Journal JAMA Pediatrics.