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Study shows birth defects more likely to result from diabetic mothers


ATLANTA A new study has shown that diabetic women who get pregnant are three-to-four times more likely to have a child with birth defects than other women, according to the Associated Press. The study provides the most detailed information to date on types of birth defects that occur to the infants of diabetic mothers, including heart defects, missing kidneys and spine deformities.

The study draws from the birth records between 1997 and 2003 at hospitals in 10 states—Arkansas, California, Georgia, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Texas and Utah. The authors focused on the 13,000 births involving a major birth defect, and compared them to nearly 5,000 randomly selected healthy births from the same locations.

Mothers were asked if they had been diagnosed with diabetes before or during their pregnancy. The researchers said those who were diagnosed while pregnant either had a temporary, pregnancy-induced condition called gestational diabetes or had diabetes that had gone undiagnosed until they were pregnant.

The study found that there was no diabetes involved in 93 percent of the birth defects. About 2 percent of the children with single birth defects were born to mothers who had diabetes before they became pregnant. About 5 percent of the infants with multiple defects were born to mothers with that condition. In healthy births, the percentage of mothers who were diabetic before pregnancy was much lower. The study also showed a wide range of birth defects that included malformation of the heart, spine, limbs and gastrointestinal tract.

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