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Pregnant and Diabetic? Your Baby's Brain May Be at Risk, New Study Shows

Dec 13, 2016 05:04 AM EST

Diabetes is bad news as it is, but apparently it's even worse for pregnant women and the developing baby inside their womb.

A new research presented at the annual meeting of the European Association of Cardiovascular Imaging (EACVI) in Leipzig, Germany suggests that babies born to mothers with diabetes may be at risk of poor brain development.

Led by Dr. Aparna Kulkarni, a pediatric cardiologist from the Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Centre in New York, the study looked into 14 fetuses inside mothers with type 1 or 2 diabetes versus 16 fetuses inside mothers without diabetes (control group). Nine of the diabetic mothers used insulin, three took oral medications, and two used diet alone to control their glucose levels, an article by Eureka Alert reports.

By using a fetal Doppler echocardiography to measure blood flow to the brain, the left and right outflow tracts of the heart, the aorta, and the placenta, the researchers found that opposite to the fetuses in the control group, the blood circulation in fetuses of diabetic mothers flows preferentially to the placenta, away from the brain. More so, the fetuses of diabetic mothers were found to have poor placental resistance and compliance, lower blood flow to the arteries in the brain (measured from the cerebral artery radius), a reduced proportion of blood flow to the brain than the placenta and a lower cardiac output, the Space Daily writes.

Although the placenta is taken away after delivery, Dr. Kulkarni is not discounting the probability that the poor blood circulation to the brain while inside the mother's womb may impact the baby's quality of life. While little is known as to why this happens and if it can be prevented, Dr. Kulkarni highly recommends pregnant women to strictly regulate their glucose intake and to live a generally healthy lifestyle as advised by their attending obstetrician.

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