A drug used to treat a type of diabetes that develops during pregnancy has been found to cause a number of complications to the baby.
New research by the University of North Carolina published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics shows that the drug glyburide caused infants to be at higher risk of respiratory distress and low blood sugar. They may also be larger in size than most babies at birth, and may require intensive care treatment if the mother took the drug as opposed to taking insulin instead.
The researchers collected data from more than 110,000 women with gestational diabetes, 8% of which were treated with either glyburide or insulin. The study did not include women with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, women under 15 years old and over 45 years old, and women pregnant with multiples.
The study found that 3% more babies born from mothers who took glyburide needed neonatal intensive care admission compared to babies born from mothers treated with insulin. 1.1% more babies also had respiratory problems and 1.4% were born too large.
“Doctors and patients need to be aware that although glyburide is easier to use than insulin, not all women may be good candidates for management with this medication,” said lead researcher Michele Jonsson Funk, assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of North Carolina.
“We need to better understand which women can be treated effectively with glyburide, considering not only the short-term but also the long-term effects that these treatments may have on the health of their newborns,” she added.
The extent of the study only covers the associations between the use of glyburide and health complications in infants. It does not cover a cause-effect link.
Sources: March 30, 2015. "Study links glyburide to more infant intensive care and respiratory distress". webmd.com March 31, 2015. "Use of glyburide for gestational diabetes linked to birth complications". diabetes.co.uk