Impact of Diabetes on Pregnancy

Impact of Diabetes on Pregnancy

Authored by DesiMD Doctor on 9 Apr 2014 - 10:49

Diabetes is a condition characterized by poor storage and utilization of glucose in the blood. It is commonly due to a defect with insulin (either restricted insulin synthesis or poor insulin action). However, during pregnancy a number of women may become diagnosed with a type of diabetes called gestational diabetes, occurring between 12- 24 weeks into the pregnancy.


Risks associated with pre-existing Diabetes:


There are dual associated risks of having Type 1 or 2 Diabetes such as:

•  An increased likelihood of having labour induced early to limit growth of the foetus, or a likely caesarean section if allowed to full term (macrosomnic baby >4000 g)
•   Increased risk of experiencing a miscarriage
In addition, type 1 Diabetics are at a higher risk for additional complications such as:

• Kidney damage (also called nephropathy)
•  Eye damage (retinopathy)
•  Foetal abnormalities
•  Stillbirth or death soon after delivery
•  Newborn problems including cardiovascular (heart) and respiratory issues shortly after birth
•  Children who themselves may become diabetic later in life or obese


Gestational Diabetes:

As the name implies, this is diabetes that occurs as a result of pregnancy, and normally goes away following the birth of the child. Any woman may develop diabetes during her pregnancy, but certain women are more prone to it than others.


These women include:

•  Women who are obese or have BMI higher than 30
•  Women who have previously delivered a baby weighing more than 4500 grams
•  Women who have a first degree relative that is a diabetic
•  Women who have developed gestational diabetes in a prior pregnancy
•  Women who are ethnic Asians or Africans


Diet and Lifestyle: Dr. Vasanth Kumar, Consultant Physician and Diabetologist says, “When it comes to effectively managing diabetes in pregnancy, whether it developed before or during the pregnancy, diet and lifestyle modification plays the most important role. Exercise and dietary modifications go a long way in helping the body to improve insulin sensitivity and at least reduce the impact of high blood sugar.  


While it is not a good idea to practice caloric restriction during this period of foetal growth, it is essential to limit consumption of simple carbohydrates (those that get absorbed fast) such as table sugar and carbonated beverages.”


Gestational Diabetes or Gestational Diabetes MellitusGDM is a condition in which women without previously diagnosed with diabetes exhibit high blood glucose levels during pregnancy. GDM is the commonest type of Diabetes in pregnancy. Type 2 Diabetes is also commonly seen these days among younger people below 30 years. “It is important for all diabetic women to make sure that their sugar is well under control before they become pregnant as this can avoid complications to the mother and baby,” says Dr. Vasanth Kumar.


“Both Type 2 Diabetics and Gestational Diabetes women (if not controlled with diet) receive insulin during pregnancy. They should check their blood sugars regularly at least 3 to 4 times a day. Diabetics should avoid high calorie food and junk foods, and take lot of green vegetables and high fibre foods, advises” Dr. Vasanth Kumar. 


“In addition, a moderate resistance based exercise plan will reap the benefits of building lean muscle by making use of excessive blood glucose,” adds Dr.Vasanth Kumar 


If management solely with diet and lifestyle changes seems insufficient, you may require either oral or injectible medication. Failure of the above mentioned methods is usually indicated by resistance of the foetus to adhere to reasonable growth patterns.


Insulin is generally the drug of choice in pregnant women, with injections needing to be made under the skin (subcutaneously) just before meals are consumed. This practice helps to ensure glucose is sent to cells where it is needed to be stored, and not circulating in the blood. Recently, oral medications have been given the green light for use in pregnancy, with Glyburide and Metformin being the two most popular options.


*Disclaimer: This is not medical advice. The content is for educational purposes only. Please contact your doctor for any health care issues.