Glyburide May Increase the Risk of Birth Defects in Mothers with Gestational Diabetes

When a woman becomes pregnant, her doctor will order various tests and screenings to ensure that she and the fetus are in good health. One of those tests is for gestational diabetes, which can develop even in women who show no symptoms. Many women develop the condition; with exercise and a healthy diet, it is likely to go away, though it increases a woman’s chance of developing Type 2 diabetes after the pregnancy.

Because untreated diabetes puts the mother at risk and increases the chances of the child being born with a birth defect, many women are prescribed glyburide (DiaBeta) as opposed to insulin. A study in the March 30th issue of JAMA Pediatrics shows that glyburide can pose serious risks to both mother and child, according to an article in Clinical Advisor. In fact, the data shows that pregnant women on glyburide are “41% more likely to be admitted to the NICU, 40% more likely to have hypoglycemia, and 63% more likely to have respiratory distress” (emphasis theirs).

The researchers in the JAMA study looked into 9,000 cases of gestational diabetes mellitus, or GDM. Because approximately 18% of all pregnant women will develop GDM, the study was able to shed light on crucial information for both doctors and families alike.

The risks of untreated diabetes

When your body stops creating insulin, your blood sugar levels rise. For women with GDM, this rise in sugars can lead to a number of growth and birth defects, including macrosomia. Macrosomia occurs when the fetus grows too large too quickly. The enlarged size increases the risk of:

  • Forceps injuries
  • Cesarean section errors
  • Vacuum extraction injuries
  • Shoulder dystocia

The study, which was led by Wendy Camelo Castillo, PhD, of the University of Maryland, Baltimore and Michelle Jonnson Funk, assistant professor of epidemiology at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, did not intend to find a link between glyburide and GDM, and Ms. Funk says that the link between the two is not clear. However, given the data, such a link seems possible and must be studied more thoroughly. Right now, the FDA has only approved insulin, but more and more mothers are turning to glyburide as an easier and less expensive option. This could potentially lead to defective drug lawsuits around the globe.

To learn more about the link between prescribed medications and birth defects, we invite you to contact Plaxen Adler Muncy, P.A. With offices in Columbia, Baltimore and throughout Maryland, we are always near to you when you need us most.

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