Short- and long-range complications in offspring of diabetic mothers

J Diabetes Complications. Sep-Oct 1996;10(5):294-301. doi: 10.1016/1056-8727(95)00080-1.


The perinatal mortality rate of infants of diabetic mothers (IDMs) has declined dramatically from 250 per 1000 live births in the 1960s to a near-normal 20 per 1000 live births in the 1980s. Five to 8% of all IDMs suffer from major congenital malformations, and it is the latter that are responsible for 50% of these perinatal deaths. It has been shown that tight glycemic control prior to conception and during pregnancy can prevent an excess rate of congenital malformations, fetal macrosomia, birth trauma, and neonatal respiratory distress syndrome. We briefly review the short- and long-range complications that occur in offspring of diabetic mothers (ODMs) from gestation through young adulthood. Short-term neonatal complications, such as hypoglycemia, hypocalcemia, hypomagnesemia, hyperbilirubinemia, and polycythemia, are related mainly to fetal hyperinsulinemia, hypoxemia, and prematurity. They are readily controllable within the setup of modern neonatal intensive care units. Long-range complications include an increased rate of childhood and adolescent obesity, impaired glucose tolerance or diabetes mellitus, and subtle neuropsychological dysfunctions. These may be related to the severity of the maternal hyperglycemia during pregnancy, the consequent fetal hyperinsulinemia, and third trimester maternal lipid metabolism disturbances. Today we have at hand the knowledge and tools to properly treat both pregestational and gestational diabetes. Increased education of the general practitioner and the target population regarding early referral of pregestational diabetic mothers and the implementation of screening programs for gestational diabetes will further reduce diabetic pregnancy-related morbidity.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cardiomyopathies / epidemiology
  • Cardiomyopathies / etiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Congenital Abnormalities / epidemiology*
  • Congenital Abnormalities / etiology
  • Congenital Abnormalities / mortality
  • Diabetes Complications*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / embryology
  • Diabetes Mellitus / etiology
  • Female
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / epidemiology
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / etiology
  • Fetal Macrosomia / epidemiology*
  • Fetal Macrosomia / etiology
  • Fetal Macrosomia / mortality
  • Humans
  • Hyperbilirubinemia / epidemiology
  • Hyperbilirubinemia / etiology
  • Hypocalcemia / epidemiology
  • Hypocalcemia / etiology
  • Hypoglycemia / epidemiology
  • Hypoglycemia / etiology
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intelligence
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Polycythemia / epidemiology
  • Polycythemia / etiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy in Diabetics / complications*
  • Pregnancy in Diabetics / embryology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome, Newborn / epidemiology
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome, Newborn / etiology
  • Time Factors