Washington: If you're an expecting mother and have diabetes, chances are high that your baby might be bigger. This was discovered during a research conducted by the European Society of Cardiology, where the team of researchers found that instead of the brain, the blood flows preferentially to the placenta in fetuses of diabetic mothers. This change in blood flow increases the size of the infant.
"We know that maternal diabetes mellitus affects the fetal organs," said lead author of the study, Aparna Kulkarni.
Adding, "Babies born to mothers with diabetes are sometimes bigger, especially if the diabetes is uncontrolled, and the placenta is larger. There is data to suggest that some other organs such as the pancreas and the kidneys in the fetus might be affected."
Kulkarni's previous research identified subclinical changes in the heart muscle of fetuses of mothers with diabetes. In the current study she investigated whether these fetuses had changes in blood circulation.
Kulkarni said: "The computational model equivalent of the fetal circulation is an electrical circuit where there are resistances and compliances. It is easier for blood to flow to the placenta, and harder for blood to flow to the brain."
Adding, the placenta in fetuses of diabetic mothers have changes in their blood vessels and are known to be large; therefore likely receive more blood supply. But she added that the lower proportion of blood supplying the brain is an interesting finding and could have bigger implications.
"The placenta gets taken away after a baby is born so it's no longer a part of the circulation," she said.
"But it's possible that the reduced circulation to the brain in utero could affect the baby through life. We don't know enough about why this redistribution of blood flow occurs or the implications it might have. More research is needed to find out if this has any long-term impact on the health of the baby and whether anything can be done to prevent it," she concluded.
(With ANI inputs)