Complications of diabetes in pregnancy

Complications of diabetes in pregnancy affect both mother and fetus .

most importantly, Because pregnancy affects both maternal moreover fetal metabolism in a physiologic way even it may cause a diabetogenic effect in a non-diabetic mother.

The ratio of gestational diabetes development among pregnant women is 2 to 17.8% so, the common ask is:

how complications of diabetes in pregnancy develop in diabetic women?

And if it developed, does it affect the mother or the fetus or both of them?

Complications of diabetes in pregnancy

Gestational diabetes complications in the mother

Preeclampsia (gestational hypertension):

why hypertension in pregnancy?
why hypertension in pregnancy?

Women with type 1 DM are predisposed to it because they often have a higher arterial blood pressure that begins with.

Preeclampsia is a condition in which there is a sudden rise in blood pressure, edema, and swelling mostly in face, feet, and hands.

If preeclampsia is left untreated, it may progress to eclampsia, in which the mother can suffer from convulsions, coma, even death.

Worsening of diabetic complications:

If you were suffering from retinopathy, nephropathy, neuropathy, or any other diabetic complications, therefore the condition will be worse if left untreated.

Insulin resistance:

During pregnancy, the placenta supplies the fetus with metabolites, electrolytes, nutrients, and water and secrete hormones to maintain the pregnancy without any problems.

In early pregnancy, some hormones can increase insulin levels and decrease glucose production by the liver, which may lead to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar level).

In later pregnancy, other hormones like estrogen and cortisol antagonize the effect of insulin on the body, which can lead to a condition that is called insulin resistance.

Insulin resistance is one of the most serious complications of diabetes in pregnancy.

Gestational diabetes complications related to the fetus

effect of gestational diabetes on fetus


A larger than normal baby, due to excess insulin crossing the placenta, which may lead to traumatic painful delivery in which the baby may be injured.

Also, having a large baby increases the incidence of having a cesarean section in order to avoid the traumatic delivery.

Risk of shoulder dystocia may develop in the large baby because the shoulders of the baby cannot pass the symphysis pubis, that’s why it is considered one of the most difficult complications of diabetes in pregnancy.

But even normal-sized babies who are born to mothers with untreated gestational diabetes are at a high risk of becoming overweight-child.

2- Delivery problems:

  • Continuous high blood sugar level can cause:
  • Early labor
  • Cesarean section
  • Miscarriage before 20 weeks gestation or stillbirth after 20 weeks due to birth defects caused by excess sugar level.


Low blood sugar level, can develop after birth due to high insulin levels, so you might control your own blood sugar level in order to maintain blood sugar level in your baby.

Birth defects:

Due to high blood sugar, many issues may develop:

  • Respiratory distress syndrome (RDS): Because of improper development of surfactant that reduces pulmonary surface tension. RDS is one of the most common complications of diabetes in pregnancy.
  • Cardiovascular problems like hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
  • Neonatal hypoglycemia
  • Hypocalcemia
  • Hyperbilirubinemia and jaundice
  • Congenital malformations in the development of the brain, spine, gastrointestinal tract, kidneys, limbs.


  • only 5% of pregnant women may have gestational hypertension.
  • RDS is one of the most common gestational diabetes complications.
  • The mother should keep her blood sugar level normal consequently to avoid any problems with fetus or pregnancy by doing exercise and eating healthy food.
  • Diabetic complications should be treated early to avoid complications of diabetes in pregnancy.


Diabetes Pregnancy Complications and Concerns – How to Manage Your Diabetes

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Gestational Diabetes: Causes, Complications and Treatment

Adverse pregnancy outcomes in women with diabetes

Preeclampsia: Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatments

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