Dr John Edozie, an Obstetrician and Gynaecologist with a private hospital in Abuja, on Tuesday advised mothers with diabetic conditions on early antenatal care, to forestall giving birth to children with brain defects.
Edozie, who gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja, said that brain, spinal cord and heart problems associated with diabetes could be identified at the early stage of pregnancy.
He noted that diabetes increases the risks associated with pregnancy, saying the sickness causes lots of negative effects to the mother as well as the child.
According to the Abuja-based medical practitioner, blood sugar is the baby’s source of food, which passes to the child through the placenta.
“When a woman has diabetes and her blood sugar is poorly managed, excess amounts of sugar are transported to the baby.
“In this case, the baby does not have diabetes and can increase the production of insulin substantially, in order to use this extra sugar,” he said.
The gynaecologist noted that the existence of the abnormal cycle could result in diverse complications.
He described one of the complications associated with diabetic pregnant mothers as giving birth to overweight babies also known as “macrosomia”.
“Diabetic pregnant women stand the chance of being delivered of overweight babies, weighing more than 4,000 grammes or be born greater than the 90 percentile of the gestational age.
“This happens because the baby responds to the excess sugar, which the large amount of insulin produced by the baby, is converted to body fat.
“We can just say that the baby is being overfed while still in the uterus,” he said.
Edozie said that the existence of the abnormal cycle could lead to diverse complications.
The expert said the delivery of such a baby could be more difficult for both the baby and the mother, thus requiring caesarean delivery.
He observed that most obstetricians conduct an ultrasound to approximate the weight of the baby before delivery, to determine if vaginal delivery could be attempted.
Edozie warned against delivering a large baby through the vagina when the mother is diabetic.
According to him, such a delivery could be life-threatening, and exposing the woman to the most frightening obstetrical emergencies.
The medical practitioner said that such a delivery could expose the child to a shoulder dystocia (where the baby’s head delivers but the shoulders are too large to fit through the birth canal).
Edozie said that a child could also have low blood sugar after birth, which is “neonatal hypoglycemia”.
“If the baby’s pancreas is making large amounts of insulin, in response to the mother’s high blood sugar, it will continue to do so for a time after delivery.
“Since the sugar supply from the mother is no longer present once the baby has been delivered, blood sugar can drop too low,” he said.
Edozie advised that it was important that babies born to women with diabetes should be monitored very closely for the first few hours of life, to check their blood sugar.
He noted that such babies might require more frequent breast milk or bottle feeding, to maintain their blood sugar at a normal range.
The medical practitioner said that birth defects could be recognised within the first six months of pregnancy, while infecting the child at that stage could be preventable.
“The most common birth defects to a diabetic mother are brain, spinal and heart defects, and some of these shortcomings can be detected during the first half of the pregnancy.
“This can be diagnosed through ultrasound checks and prenatal tests,” Edozie said. (NAN)