Diabetes before pregnancy

By Ann Griswold • Published: July 16th, 2008
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

It’s easy for parents to overlook weight problems in their darling daughters and dismiss their chubby cheeks as lingering baby fat. But scientists say extra pounds during childhood may contribute to unnecessary heartache down the road. A recent study found that more women than ever before are entering their child-bearing years with type two diabetes, a health condition that ups the risks for miscarriage, stillbirth and birth defects.

California researchers discovered the trend after studying almost two-hundred-thousand women who gave birth between 1999 and 2005. They found that the number of teen girls with pre-existing diabetes increased five-fold during the six-year period. But that increase was minuscule compared with the forty-fold increase in pre-existing diabetes among older mothers over age forty. Surprisingly, the rate of gestational diabetes… the type that develops during pregnancy… did not increase at all during the six-year period.

The study also revealed that certain ethnic groups, like blacks, Hispanics and Asian or Pacific women, are more prone to entering their child-bearing years with diabetes. In addition to causing birth defects, pre-existing diabetes can increase birth weight and up the risk of complications during delivery.

Experts say parents can help their children avoid type two diabetes by encouraging regular exercise and healthy diets. Women who have diabetes can protect the health of their babies in the womb by controlling their blood sugar as best as possible. When in doubt, ask your health-care provider to help you plan ahead for a healthy pregnancy.