Diabetic Fetopathy Definition

Fetopathia diabetica is a serious developmental disorder that occurs in unborn or newborn children and is caused by the mother’s blood glucose level being too high. The treatment essentially consists of an ideal metabolic adjustment of the pregnant woman. If this succeeds, a diabetic fetopathia and the associated risks for the child can largely be prevented.

What is diabetic fetopathia?

According to Healthknowing, fetopathia diabetica is a developmental disorder of unborn or newborn children. The cause is inadequately treated maternal diabetes during pregnancy. The expectant mother’s increased blood sugar reaches the fetus unhindered through the placenta and leads to hyperglycaemia.

Untreated gestational diabetes can have serious long-term consequences for the child and the mother-to-be. There are increasing disturbances in general development, growth and organ formation. If the expectant mother suffers from diabetes, the pregnancy is automatically classified as a high-risk pregnancy. In order to prevent damage to the child’s health, it is necessary to monitor the mother’s blood sugar closely throughout the pregnancy.


There are basically three causes for the development of diabetic fetopathia in an unborn child. In rare cases, women develop so-called gestational diabetes during pregnancy. This form of diabetes only exists during pregnancy and disappears completely after birth.

In addition, if the mother has type 1 or type 2 diabetes mellitus, the fetus may develop abnormally due to hyperglycemia. Glucose reaches the fetus via the placenta; the child’s circulation reacts with an increase in insulin production.

The result is fetal hyperinsulinism associated with various developmental disorders. The increased release of insulin has a stimulating effect on the synthesis of fats and proteins, which leads to an enlargement (hypertrophy) of organs in the fetus.

Symptoms, ailments & signs

Diabetic fetopathy is often associated with premature birth. In addition, placental insufficiency can occur, which can lead to the death of the fetus before or during birth. There is also the risk of shoulder dystocia, a disorder of the birth process in which the child’s shoulders are too large.

This makes childbirth much more difficult. Shoulder dystocia requires immediate action because in this condition the child can die of a lack of oxygen. Adjustment difficulties are very common in newborns. Affected children suffer from hypoglycemia, hypocalcemia, jaundice, and shortness of breath. Furthermore, diabetic fetopathy increases the child’s risk of developing obesity later in life.

If the mother has untreated diabetes, the newborns are typically overweight and have immature organs. In severe cases, there are malformations of the internal organs. Due to the routine measurement of blood sugar as part of pregnancy examinations, severe cases of diabetic fetopathy have become rare. Most affected children nowadays have a normal body weight.

Diagnosis & course

The diagnosis is made during a routine examination of the pregnant woman by measuring the blood sugar level. If the disease is more advanced, the diagnosis can also be made by ultrasound. The attending physician will determine an enlarged fetus and abnormalities in the organs. An enlarged liver in the unborn child is particularly indicative of fetopathia diabetica.

If the diagnosis is made in good time, the prognosis for children of diabetic mothers can be assessed as very good. In most cases, diabetes is easily treatable and the unborn child is not harmed. After the birth, the blood sugar level of the newborn must be checked regularly for the first three hours, as derailments occasionally occur.


With early and correct treatment, diabetic fetopathia can be treated relatively well, so that there are no further complications or complaints in the child. In most cases, the disease results in premature birth. This is generally associated with severe complications, but can also proceed without symptoms, so that the child is born normally and healthy.

Most of the time, however, the child’s shoulders are too big. This can lead to breathing difficulties, which in the worst case can lead to a lack of oxygen. This is particularly dangerous for newborns and can lead to permanent damage to various organs and extremities.

As a rule, treatment of diabetic fetopathy is therefore carried out in the child immediately. The risk of obesity in children is also greatly increased. Most often there are malformations of the organs and underdevelopment of the child. The exact complications depend heavily on the mother’s diet.

The liver is often enlarged. If diabetic fetopathy is diagnosed early, most of the symptoms for the child can be eliminated during pregnancy with the help of a healthy diet. There are still no complications. In the worst case, the child can die due to shortness of breath.

When should I go to Art?

Treatment is always necessary for fetopathia diabetic. There is no self-healing and the disease can endanger the life of the child. As a rule, however, the disease is identified directly by a premature birth and can also be treated at an early stage. Immediate intervention is necessary if the child suffers from a lack of oxygen or from adjustment difficulties. This can lead to shortness of breath or jaundice. If there is no treatment, the child usually dies.

Since fetopathia diabetica also significantly increases the risk of obesity in the further life of the patient, those affected must pay attention to their diet and have regular medical examinations. The internal organs can also be affected.

In order to avoid immature organs, parents should also take part in examinations with their child. Fetopathia diabetica can also be avoided by measuring blood sugar during pregnancy. In most cases, the diagnosis and treatment of the disease takes place directly in the hospital. Early treatment can prevent further complications in adulthood.

Treatment & Therapy

The therapy serves to adjust the metabolism of the pregnant woman as optimally as possible so that there is no hyperglycaemia, which could harm the child. In order to avoid severe disease, the pregnant woman must be examined at regular intervals. Continuous monitoring of the blood sugar level is essential to ensure the success of the treatment.

If the diabetes is known, it is advisable to start therapy before conception. The specialist can determine the severity of the diabetes and give a prognosis for the likely course of the pregnancy. In addition, the time of onset of pregnancy should be planned so that the metabolic control is as ideal as possible.

There are also special training courses for diabetics who want to have children, in which the participants receive information about proper nutrition during pregnancy and self-monitoring of blood sugar. In this way it is possible to prevent damage to the unborn child. In general, the children of diabetic mothers are healthy these days.

Nonetheless, maternal diabetes poses a risk to the fetus, which is why intensive postpartum monitoring is essential. The treatment of the newborn with hypoglycaemia is carried out by an infusion of glucose. The excessively high blood sugar level in the fetus disrupts the formation of Surfacant, which means that the lungs are often immature at birth. If the newborn suffers from shortness of breath, artificial respiration is given or oxygen is supplied through an oxygen mask.

Outlook & forecast

Newborns are overweight due to fetopathia diabetica. This also carries risks for the mother during childbirth. There is a high probability that she will suffer a rupture of the perineum or a perineal incision will have to be made to prevent this. At birth, the liver is enlarged and the newborn may have hypoglycemia and hypocalcemia. Furthermore, fetopathia diabetica increases the risk of respiratory distress syndrome immediately after birth.

Affected newborns can also develop diabetes mellitus in the course of their lives because the body was exposed to such high blood sugar levels at such an early stage. Serious malformations of the unborn child can already have occurred in the womb, but these can usually be seen clearly during the ultrasound examinations. This may help treat them. If not, the nursing staff can adapt to any special needs the newborn may have and be prepared for the malformation when the child is born.

In addition to the heart, the extremities and the urogenital tract, however, malformations often affect the CNS, so that damage only becomes apparent in the course of a child’s development. There are cases of fetopathia diabetica in which the affected child was able to live almost symptom-free with appropriate treatment during and after the pregnancy, in other cases the damage is severe and permanent.


Diabetics should consult a specialist before they become pregnant. Both internists and gynecologists have the necessary specialist knowledge. In this way it can be ensured that the blood sugar level is well adjusted.

During pregnancy, all prescribed examinations should be carried out in order to be able to diagnose worsening diabetes in good time. This can prevent the development of diabetic fetopathy.


In the case of diabetic fetopathy, the options for follow-up care are very limited in most cases. The person concerned is dependent on a purely symptomatic treatment of this disease in order to prevent further complications and to make everyday life easier for the person concerned. This does not lead to self-healing, and complete treatment is usually not possible either.

In many cases, genetic counseling is also possible with fetopathia diabetica in order to prevent the disease from being passed on to the next generations. In order to permanently alleviate the symptoms of fetopathia diabetica, those affected depend on regular examination and monitoring of the blood sugar level. Medical assistance can also be used to permanently measure the value.

In many cases, those affected are also dependent on a special diet in order to minimize the symptoms of the disease and not to unnecessarily burden the body. In the case of fetopathia diabetica, early diagnosis of the disease is also important so that the child is healthy and can develop normally.

You can do that yourself

In everyday life, it is important to pay particular attention to a healthy lifestyle throughout pregnancy. This includes a balanced diet rich in vitamins and sufficient time in the fresh air. As far as possible, the expectant mother should go for walks and exercise every day.

A pregnant woman is well advised to go to all of the preventive and check-up examinations that are offered. Health problems can be recognized there as early as possible and a quick reaction is possible. This will reduce the risk of further complications. In the event of irregularities or the vague feeling that something might be wrong, the mother-to-be should also seek medical assistance immediately.

In addition to a healthy diet and regular monitoring, the reduction of emotional stressors helps. Exchanges with other pregnant women, experienced mothers or the use of relaxation procedures can improve the wellbeing of mother and child. It is helpful to reduce fears that arise and to maintain an optimistic basic attitude.

If there is a high-risk pregnancy, it is particularly important that the joy of life is maintained and that contact with the social environment is maintained. Withdrawal or panic conditions have a negative impact on the further course of pregnancy. The leisure activities can be adapted despite the restrictions and help the pregnant woman and the unborn child to improve health.

diabetic fetopathia