Skip to content

Diabetes Health Center

Font Size

Jaundice in Newborns Associated With Type 1 Diabetes

WebMD Health News

Nov. 11, 1999 (Los Angeles) -- It is not unusual for a child in the womb to develop blood proteins that are incompatible with the corresponding proteins in its mother's blood. Often these infants are born with jaundice, a yellowish discoloration of the skin due to an abnormal breakdown of blood products. A new study has found an association between this form of jaundice in newborns and a higher occurrence of diabetes that starts in childhood, also known as type 1 diabetes.

However, "we are nowhere near saying that if you have a particular [type of blood protein], your risk is increased," one of the investigators tells WebMD.

In the paper, published in the October issue of the journal Diabetes Care, lead researcher Gisela G. Dahlquist, MD, PhD, of UmeƄ University Hospital in Sweden, and co-authors from Ireland and Hungary, found a strong association between jaundice caused by incompatibility of the ABO blood protein between mother and infant and the child's subsequent risk of developing type 1 diabetes.

ABO blood proteins determine the type of blood the child will have, such as A, B, or O. Certain situations can arise where the blood type of the child will cause a reaction or be incompatible with the mother's blood type, and thus cause problems. If a severe reaction develops, the child may die.

Incompatibility to Rh factor, another blood protein, had no effect. The Rh factor determines whether your blood type is positive or negative, as in B+ or O-.

Other important diabetes risk factors included a mother older than 25, a high blood pressure disorder during pregnancy known as preeclampsia, and lung disease in the newborn. The authors looked at approximately 900 cases of children who developed diabetes before age 15 from seven countries throughout Europe, and compared them to around 2,300 children without diabetes.

"This is an interesting paper, generally well done, and an exciting confirmation of earlier findings [by the same authors]," says Trevor Orchard, MD, in an interview with WebMD seeking objective comment. "But even though this is a significant finding, we're not sure what proportion of ABO-incompatible mothers will have a child with diabetes." In other words, he says, the actual risk "is small."

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

Check Your Blood Sugar Level Now
What type of diabetes do you have?
Your gender:

Get the latest Diabetes newsletter delivered to your inbox!


Your level is currently

If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Did You Know Your Lifestyle Choices
Affect Your Blood Sugar?

Use the Blood Glucose Tracker to monitor
how well you manage your blood sugar over time.

Get Started

This tool is not intended for women who are pregnant.

Start Over

Step:  of 

Today on WebMD

Diabetic tools
Symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and more.
woman flexing muscles
10 strength training exercises.
Blood sugar test
12 practical tips.
Tom Hanks
Stars living with type 1 or type 2.
kenneth fujioka, md
Can Vinegar Treat Diabetes
Middle aged person
Home Healthcare

Prediabetes How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
type 2 diabetes
food fitness planner