Expectant mothers with gestational diabetes should consult maternal-fetal medicine specialist

According to the American Diabetes Association, more women in the U.S. are developing gestational diabetes. About 6 percent to 8 percent of pregnant women are diagnosed every year.


Women with gestational diabetes are more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes later in life. The disease also can be harmful to the unborn child. According to Jennifer R. Willis, APRN, with Norton Children’s Maternal-Fetal Medicine, if left uncontrolled, high blood sugar can cause pregnancy risks, including rapid growth of the fetus and delivery complications.

“To avoid that, expectant mothers may be seen by both a maternal-fetal medicine specialist as well as an obstetrician throughout their pregnancy,” Jennifer said. “A team approach can result in the best care possible.”

Jamil T. Elfarra, M.D., maternal-fetal medicine specialist with Norton Children’s Maternal-Fetal Medicine, agreed.


“Untreated or poorly controlled gestational diabetes can harm your baby,” Dr. Elfarra said. “When you have gestational diabetes, your pancreas works overtime to produce insulin, but the insulin does not adequately lower your blood glucose levels. Extra blood glucose goes through the placenta, giving the baby high blood glucose levels. Since the baby is getting more energy than it needs from the high amount of blood glucose, the extra energy is stored as fat.”

The baby’s pancreas then makes extra insulin to get rid of the unneeded blood glucose. This creates a risk of the newborn experiencing low blood sugar levels after birth. Blood sugar from the mother has been taken away, but the baby is still producing insulin at roughly the same rate as it was while in the uterus.

Refer a patient

To refer a patient to Dr. Elfarra or any Norton Children’s Maternal-Fetal Medicine provider, click here for the online referral form, or call (866) 574-4111.


Maternal-fetal medicine specialists have the experience and expertise to treat the unique needs of pregnant women with pre-existing diabetes or gestational diabetes.

A board-certified dietitian and diabetes educators are available to help patients learn more about managing blood sugar through nutritional changes and other lifestyle changes.

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