Gestational Diabetes Drug Used In Pregnancy May Raise Babies’ Risk For Complications

Category: Diabetes     Author: Georgina Tyburski     Posted: Friday - September 11, 2015

A study published March 30 in JAMA Pediatrics links the use of glyburide in mothers with Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM) to more infant complications including increased visits to the intensive care unit and respiratory distress.   Glyburide (DiaBeta) is an oral tablet that patients prefer over injections of insulin to control blood sugar levels in gestational diabetes.  During the last ten years there has been increasing use of glyburide (DiaBeta) in mothers with gestational diabetes.

The research was conducted using a nationwide, employer-based insurance database.  Data was collected on more than 110,000 women with gestational diabetes, during the study period of 2000-2011.  According to the study, about 8 percent of women with gestational diabetes were treated with glyburide or insulin.  Researchers found the use of glyburide increased from 8.5 percent to 64 percent during the study period.

Infants born to mothers who were given glyburide (DiaBeta) during pregnancy had a higher risk of having low blood sugar, being too large at birth, had a higher risk of birth injury and had a higher risk of respiratory distress needing intensive care compared to babies born to mothers treated with insulin.

"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, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "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 said.   Funk added that exactly why the drug is linked with these complications isn't clear.

These findings are especially concerning since the number of women with gestational diabetes has more than doubled in the last twenty years.  In the United States among women with health insurance Glyburide is now used more commonly to treat Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM). "Glyburide has been used increasingly in pregnancy over the last 10 years. Although the initial trial data suggested it was safe, large studies including this one have raised concerns about the safety of its use," said Dr. Richard Holt, author of an accompanying editorial in the journal, and a professor of diabetes and endocrinology at the University of Southampton in England.

The study concluded, “Newborns from privately insured mothers treated with glyburide were more likely to experience adverse outcomes than those from mothers treated with insulin. Given the widespread use of glyburide, further investigation of these differences in pregnancy outcomes is a public health priority.”

Birth related trauma, neonatal hypoglycemia and admission to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) can all be complications from uncontrolled gestational diabetes.  Hire a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant (Legal Nurse Consultant) who can quickly identify deficiencies in obstetrical practice standards and who will ultimately save you time and money.

Camelo Castillo W, Boggess K, Stürmer T, Brookhart M, Benjamin DK, Jr, Jonsson Funk M. Association of Adverse Pregnancy Outcomes With Glyburide vs Insulin in Women With Gestational Diabetes. JAMA Pediatr. 2015;169(5):452-458. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2015.74.