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Glyburide for Gestational Diabetes During Pregnancy

glyburide and pregnancy

What is Glyburide?

Glyburide is an oral drug that is used with exercise and diet to control high blood sugar in patients who have Type 2 diabetes. Patients with Type 2 diabetes, don’t normally make the insulin hormone, hence it cannot control blood sugar in the body. Your doctor may recommend the right exercise program and diet that you should take with glyburide. Make sure you eat healthily, exercise regularly or lose weight if you should. This medication is not used to treat Type 1 diabetes, a condition where insulin is not produced by the body, and diabetic ketoacidosis. The drug only works inside bodies that can naturally produce insulin. Sometimes, it can be used with other medication taken by patients with diabetes. Your doctor may need to regularly check your blood sugar levels, as you take the medication. This is because this medicine may change the glucose level in your body.

Glyburide during pregnancy

Glyburide induces the production of insulin by the pancreas, which lowers the level of blood sugar in the body. It also helps your body to efficiently use insulin to break down sugar. Therefore, it is not a cure for diabetes, but rather it controls the level of blood sugar in the body. The drug is classified in category C for use as a medication during pregnancy. The majority of women who take this medication suffer from gestational diabetes. Women who take glyburide in pregnancy may have high blood sugar, a condition that is known as hyperglycemia. Abnormal levels of blood sugar in pregnancy may be as a result of congenital abnormalities. It is important for pregnant women to control high blood sugar so that they can prevent future complications like loss of limbs, kidney failure or blindness. However, this medication does not achieve the same result in all pregnant women.

It is important to note that taking oral glucose lowering drugs like glyburide is not advisable if you are pregnant. In fact, this drug is not approved in the United States as a medication to treat gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM). It is recommended that pregnant women should use insulin instead to control the level of blood glucose in their bodies. However, if pregnant women use it, they should discontinue the treatment at least 2 weeks before the time of delivery. Studies have shown that newborns of women who took glyburide during pregnancy are prone to adverse reactions, compared to those who took insulin. Animal reproduction studies in category C of pregnancy have shown adverse effects on the fetus as a result of using this medication. However, there is still the need for more studies to establish whether this medication has serious effects in humans during pregnancy.  

Side effects

So far there is no research that shows it is risky to take this drug if you are pregnant. Most people who take this medication do not suffer from serious side effects. However, some reports have suggested that taking this drug is linked to newborn complications. The report added that newborns of mothers who took these tablets in pregnancy had increased risk of developing respiratory problems. Other risks the infants were subjected to include low blood sugar, being too big when born and requiring intensive care after birth. However, the research did not establish how glyburide is linked to these health complications. 

If you are planning to get pregnant, you should inform your doctor before you begin taking this medication. Your doctor may direct you take this medicine if they believe the benefit outweighs the risk it may pose to your fetus.

The most common negative effects  include:

  • Headache 
  • Dizziness
  • Weight gain
  • Diarrhea
  • Heartburn
  • Nausea

Taking the drug to lower your blood sugar may expose you to serious side effects, which can be life threatening.

In the case of allergic reactions, serious negative effects include:

  • Itching
  • Problems with breathing
  • Blisters
  • Skin rash
  • Swollen tongue and face

In the case of hypoglycemia, serious negative effects include:

  • Dizziness
  • Feeling confused
  • Blurred vision
  • Headache
  • Irritability
  • Shakiness
  • Diarrhea

In the case of drug overdose, patients may experience symptoms such as hypoglycemia, loss of consciousness and seizures. If you notice any of these side effects while taking glyburide during pregnancy, you should inform your doctor immediately. If they are mild, they may just go away after a few weeks. However, if they are severe they won’t just disappear. Hence, you should seek help from your pharmacist or doctor. 


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Disclaimer: Please note that the contents of this community article are strictly for informational purposes and should not be considered as medical advice. This article, and other community articles, are not written or reviewed for medical validity by Canadian Insulin or its staff. All views and opinions expressed by the contributing authors are not endorsed by Canadian Insulin. Always consult a medical professional for medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment.
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