The use of the drug glyburide to treat gestational diabetes is linked with an increased risk of complications in newborns, a study suggests.
During a study period of 2000-2011, researchers at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill evaluated over 110,000 women with gestational diabetes.
Participants not included in the study were women pregnant with multiples (twins or triplets), those either with type 1 or type 2 diabetes and anyone under 15 or over 45.
8.3 per cent of subjects were treated with glyburide or insulin, with babies born to mothers administered glyburide more likely to be admitted into neonatal ICU, suffer respiratory distress and be born too large.
According to the researchers’ report, the use of glyburide has undergone a rapid increase in mothers with gestational diabetes in the last 10 years.
“Given the widespread use of glyburide, further investigation of these differences in pregnancy outcomes is a public health priority,” the researchers wrote.
Lead researcher Michele Jonsson Funk, an assistant professor of epidemiology at UNC, added: “We need to better understand which women can be treated effectively with glyburide, considering not only the short-term but also the long-term effects that these treatments may have on the health of their newborns.”
Funk and her team suggested that poor glucose control in the women on glyburide could be to blame for the differences in birth complications.
Richard I. G. Holt, PhD, FRCP of the University of Southampton in England, wrote in an accompanying editorial that doctors should “look for alternatives to glyburide until more safety data are available.”
Glyburide was recently recommended for effectively managing blood glucose control in women with gestational diabetes. The results of this study were published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

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