Pregnant women, who have a higher level of blood sugar in their early pregnancy, whether they have diabetes or not, ran a greater risk of giving birth to babies with heart diseases, a new study said Friday.
"Elevated random plasma glucose values during early pregnancy were directly correlated with increased risk for congenital heart disease in offspring," said the study conducted by the research of the U.S. Stanford University, which was published in The Journal of Pediatrics Friday.
The study, which reviewed medical records from 19,107 mother-baby pairs, said the risk of giving birth to a baby with a heart defect was 8 percent higher for every increase of 10 milligrams per deciliter in blood glucose levels at the early stage of pregnancy, when fetal heart is forming.
The study excluded from its analysis samples of women who had or developed diabetes during pregnancy.
In examing the medical records of the nearly 20,000 pairs of mothers and their babies born between 2009 and 2015, Stanford researchers analyzed the detailed data of the mothers' prenatal care, including blood test results and any cardiac diagnoses made for the babies during pregnancy or after birth.
They studied the blood samples of 13 percent of the mothers between four weeks prior to the estimated date of conception and the end of the 14th gestational week.
For decades, it is generally known that pregnant women with diabetes face a higher risk than non-diabetic women of giving birth to a baby with a congenital heart defect.
The latest study established the correlation of higher sugar levels with the risks of heart defects in babies of non-diabetic moms during early pregnancy.
"Knowing about defects prenatally improves outcomes because mothers can receive specialized care that increases their babies' chances of being healthier after birth," said James Priest, senior author of the study and assistant professor of pediatric cardiology at Stanford University School of Medicine.