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Diabetes and Pregnancy
This sheet talks about the risks that diabetes can have during pregnancy. With each pregnancy, all women have a 3% to 5%
chance of having a baby with a birth defect. This information should not take the place of medical care and advice from
your health care provider.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a condition in which the body either
does not produce enough insulin or cannot use insulin
properly. Insulin is a naturally occurring hormone in the
blood that is necessary for providing our cells with energy
to function. Insulin helps sugar (glucose) move from the
bloodstream into the cells. When glucose cannot enter our
cells, it builds up in the blood (hyperglycemia). This can
lead to damage of organs including the eyes and kidneys, or
damage of blood vessels and nerves.
Most people with diabetes have “Type 2 diabetes,”
which means that the body does not produce enough insulin
or the insulin is not able to transfer glucose into cells. Type
2 diabetes used to be known as adult-onset diabetes. In
contrast, people with “Type 1 diabetes” (previously called
juvenile-onset diabetes) have a condition where the body
does not produce any insulin at all. People with Type 1
diabetes need insulin injections and close monitoring to
control their blood sugar levels.
I have diabetes and am planning on getting pregnant. Is
there anything I need to know?
It is recommended that women with diabetes
speak with their doctors before becoming pregnant. This
will help ensure that their blood glucose levels are under
control. Whether a mother’s diabetes increases the chance
of birth defects is based on how well her glucose is
controlled just before and during a pregnancy. This is true
no matter what the cause of the diabetes. Studies have
shown that women who have well-controlled diabet