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"Does diabetes increase the chance of my baby having Infant Respiratory Distress Syndrome?"
I am a 29 year old woman with diabetes. What can I do to make sure my baby doesn't have infant respiratory distress syndrome?
Respiratory Distress Syndrome (or RDS) is a name for a specific type of lung disease of the newborn baby, and is associated with lung immaturity. The lungs are the last organ to fully develop, and lung development can be delayed in infants born to diabetic mothers. Respiratory distress syndrome can be very mild or very severe, depending on the case, and sometimes requires administration of medications like surfactant (an inhaled medication which helps to open the lungs) and even mechanical breathing support with a ventilator.
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Mothers with diabetes are more likely to have children with RDS, but the main risk factor for having a child with RDS is actually premature delivery (before 38 weeks gestation). Children born to mothers with diabetes are also at higher risk for other problems including heart disease, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) after birth, and problems related to large size including difficult deliveries. All of these complications have better outcomes with good control of your blood sugar during pregnancy. You should speak very closely with your OB/GYN about the various measures of blood sugar control, although they most frequently involve the use of insulin (most oral medications for diabetes are not safe to take during pregnancy), as well as how to monitor your blood sugars at home. Your OB/GYN will be able to help work with you using medications and diet to help best control your diabetes, and lower the likelihood of RDS or other complications.