Using data from all the live births to mothers between 1995 and 2000 in 1 former health region in the north of England, the researchers found that babies born to mothers with diabetes are 5 times as likely to have structural heart defects, compared with infants born to nondiabetic mothers. (These results were recently published in Heart.)
Over the 5-year period, 192,618 babies were born, 609 to diabetic mothers. Congenital structural defects of the heart, including transposed arteries, were found in 22 (3.6%) of these babies and in 1417 (<1%) of babies born to mothers without the disease. In order to increase the chances of better health and survival of the infant, the researchers recommend that all diabetic women be offered special heart monitoring of their unborn child to ensure that prompt treatment is available at birth.