(RxWiki News) If you’re diabetic and pregnant, you probably know that you’re at greater risk for a difficult childbirth, compared to women who aren’t diabetic. Researchers now know why.
Doctors at the University of Liverpool and Liverpool Women’s Hospital looked at tissue samples of the uterus from 100 pregnant women with and without diabetes. They discovered that women with diabetes have weaker contractions.
"Pregnant diabetics should work with their doctor to prevent emergency C-section."
They found that diabetic women were unable to have strong contractions even when given the drug oxytocin, which stimulates uterine contractions.
The contractions are weak because a diabetic woman has lower calcium levels in the uterus, said the researchers. Rising calcium levels in the uterus is what allows muscle to contract.
The team also found that diabetic women had fewer channels in the cell membrane of the uterus. Because of these differences, the uterus of a diabetic woman does not contract as strongly as it should. This, and other diabetes-related complications, put diabetic women at greater risk of having a cesarean section (C-section), especially emergency C-section.
Reduced muscle mass in the mother’s body is another factor contributing to poor uterine contractions, said a researcher.
About 45% of women with pre-existing diabetes had C-sections, compared to just 27% of women without diabetes, according to a study released last year by researchers from St. Michael’s Hospital, the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences and Women’s College Hospital in Ontario, Canada. The study examined deliveries in Ontario.
Among British women with pre-existing diabetes and gestational diabetes (high blood sugar that develops during pregnancy), about 60% of these mothers will need a C-section, said Dr. Sue Wray, professor at the University of Liverpool Institute of Translational Medicine, in a statement released by the University.
A C-section is a major operation that can increase a mother’s risk of infection, complications, excessive bleeding and hemorrhage, said Wray. The team hopes that more work is done in the future to prevent the rise of emergency C-sections.
This observational study was published in the British journal Diabetologia.