Oral Hypoglycemic Drugs Less Harmful To Unborn Than Poor Glycemic Control, Study Shows

The November 1995 issue of Diabetes Care reported that women who take oral hypoglycemic drugs have a better chance of delivering a healthy baby than do women with poor glycemic control.

The study, conducted at the Los Angeles County & University of Southern California Women’s Hospital, states that 11.7% of “a large group of Hispanic women with type 2 diabetes who did not participate in a preconceptional diabetes care program gave birth to infants with major congenital malformations.”

The women who participated in the study had developed diabetes as adults and were predominantly Hispanic and overweight. For purposes of the research, major birth defects were considered to be the cause of fatality, significant illness, or surgical repair. All other anomalies were considered minor.

Interestingly, the younger the mother, the more likely she was to have a baby with a defect. Also, high fasting glucose and glycohemoglobin concentrations correlated with an increase risk.

All of the women taking oral hypoglycemics reported taking sulfonylurea drugs, predominantly glyburide, glipizide, and chlorpropamide. There was no evidence to suggest that these drugs contributed to birth defects. According the report, “Maternal glucose control, but not mode of anti-diabetic therapy during early pregnancy, imparted a large portion of the risk for major malformations in infants of mothers with pre-gestational type 2 diabetes.”

Both type I and type 2 diabetes appear to have similar effects on the health of unborn children, possibly due to similar metabolic aberrations. The researchers could find no clear reason why younger women with type 2 diabetes were more likely to have children with defects than their older counterparts.

It is also important for women to remember to work closely with their healthcare team before conceiving.

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