Background: Infants born to diabetic women are at higher risk for hypoglycaemia related to hyperinsulinism in response to maternal hyperglycaemia during pregnancy. As such, recommendations to prevent neonatal hypoglycaemia include infant feeding in the early postpartum period. The present study aimed to examine the effect of early breastfeeding and type of nutrition used for the first feed (human milk or formula) on glucose levels in infants born to women with gestational diabetes.
Methods: The prospective pilot study of 84 infants born to gestational diabetic women examined the glycaemic levels of infants who were breastfed in the delivery room compared to glycaemic levels of those who were not. The study also compared the glycaemic levels of infants who breastfed with those who received formula for their first feed.
Results: Infants who were breastfed in the delivery room had a significantly lower rate of borderline hypoglycaemia than those who were not breastfed in the early postpartum period (10% versus 28%; Fisher's exact test., P = 0.05,). Likewise, infants breastfed in the delivery room had significantly higher mean blood glucose level compared to infants who were not breastfed in the delivery room (3.17 versus 2.86 mmol L(-1), P = 0.03). Additionally, breastfed infants had a significantly higher mean blood glucose level compared to those who were formula fed for their first feed (3.20 versus 2.68 mmol L(-1), P = 0.002).
Conclusions: Early breastfeeding may facilitate glycaemic stability in infants born to women with gestational diabetes.