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Caring for the Infant of a Diabetic Mother

Hatfield, Linda PhD, NNP-BC; Schwoebel, Ann MSN, RNC-NIC; Lynyak, Corinne BSN, RN

MCN: The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing: January-February 2011 - Volume 36 - Issue 1 - p 10–16
doi: 10.1097/NMC.0b013e3181fb0b4c
Feature Article

In the United States, approximately 100,000 infants are born to diabetic mothers each year. If diabetes in pregnancy is uncontrolled, the diversity of resulting health problems can have a profound effect on the embryo, the fetus, and the neonate. These infants are at risk for a multitude of physiologic, metabolic, and congenital complications such as macrosomia, asphyxia, respiratory distress, hypoglycemia, hypocalcemia, hyperbilirubinemia, polycythemia and hyperviscosity, cardiomegaly, and central nervous system disruption. Preconception control of glucose metabolism throughout the trajectory of a woman's pregnancy is a significant factor in decreasing the adverse impact of diabetes on the fetus and newborn. Meticulous attention to neonatal glucose levels, thorough physical examination, and precise diagnosis are prerequisites to appropriate care for the neonate.

It's important when working with diabetic pregnant women to have a full understanding of what their infants' risks will be, and how to recognize potential problems at the time of birth.

Linda Hatfield is an Assistant Professor of Evidence-Based Practice, Faculty Advisor Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Program, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, and Director of Research and Evidence-Based Practice, Pennsylvania Hospital, Philadelphia, PA. She can be reached via e-mail at

Ann Schwoebel is a Clinical Nurse Specialist, Intensive Care Nursery, Pennsylvania Hospital, Philadelphia, PA.

Corinne Lynyak is a Staff Nurse, Intensive Care Nursery, Pennsylvania Hospital, Philadelphia, PA.

The authors have disclosed that there are no financial relationships related to this article.

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.