Birth Injuries Related to Gestational Diabetes Linked to Glyburide

The Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics recently published a study potentially linking the diabetes drug Glyburide with birth injuries and complications in newborns. Michelle Jonnson Funk, lead researcher on the study and assistant professor of epidemiology at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, noted “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 medicine. 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.”

The study found that babies whose mothers were taking Glyburide were at a higher risk of developing respiratory distress, hypoglycemia, and other birth injuries and anomalies. Additionally, the study reported that such mothers were 41% more likely to have their newborn admitted to an NICU. Funk stressed that the link between the diabetes drug and gestational diabetes was not clear, the new study requires that further investigation of the possible link is critical.

The number of women with gestational diabetes has doubled in the last twenty years as the use of Glyburide has increased significantly.

Macrosomia is one complication from gestational diabetes that concerns researchers because macrosomia increases the risk of dangerous instrument deliveries (e.g. forceps, ventouse, and caesarean section).
What is clear from the study is that expectant mothers who are taking Glyburide should discuss these risks with their doctors.