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Proceedings of the Association for Information Science and Technology
Developmental malformations in the embryo of diabetic pregnancy Clinical data show that structural defects in infants of diabetic mothers are seen in many organs, and most common in the central nervous and cardiovascular systems (CNS and CVS) [2,6,7]. In the CNS, anencephaly, excencephaly, and microcephaly in the brain and spinal bifida in the spinal cord are frequently seen in infants [2,7]. In the CVS, hypoplastic ventricles, ventricular septal defects, conotruncal anomalies, double outlet
... s, double outlet ventricles, and tetralogy of Fallot are common in human cases [8,9]. In order to investigate the mechanisms underlying the hyperglycemia-induced fetal abnormalities, animal models of diabetic pregnancy have been generated and used [7,10]. In the commonly used diabetic mouse and rat models, embryonic and fetal structural defects in the CNS and CVS have been observed, similar to those in human infants (Figures 1 and 2) [1,2]. Abstract Diabetes mellitus in early pregnancy is the most severe maternal disease that can cause congenital birth defects in newborn infants, a complication known as diabetic embryopathy. Even in the developed countries where aggressive glycemic control and perinatal care are available, the birth defect rate in diabetic pregnancies is still three times higher than the background rate. With the rapid increases in the number of diabetic women in childbearing age, the birth defect rate is projected to elevate dramatically in the near future. Thus, prevention of embryonic malformations becomes an urgent task. Basic research using animal models has uncovered the involvement of major cellular activities, including proliferation and apoptosis, and associated intracellular metabolic conditions, including nitrosative, oxidative, and endoplasmic reticulum stresses in diabetic embryopathy. Basic research has also demonstrated the effectiveness of treatments via targeting the intracellular stress conditions to reduce embryonic malformations. However, translation of the basic findings into human application requires high standards of safety to the embryos and mothers. Recent identification and clinical investigation of bioactive substances from plants have advanced the exploration for safe and effective naturally occurring phytochemicals, including flavonoids, stilbenoids, and curcuminoids, as candidate agents to prevent birth defects in diabetic pregnancies.