Diabetes and Pregnancy
Several normal physiological changes occur in pregnancy. Increased hormonal secretions influence blood glucose levels. Remember, hormones are "global" since they are carried by the blood stream to all parts of your body.
One effect is a "glucose drain" from your system through the placenta to the fetus. The emptying of your stomach is slowed, an increased excretion of glucose by the kidneys occurs and there is a resistance of cells to insulin.
The risks to a developing fetus from a diabetic mother include:
- Growth restriction
- Fetal obesity
- Mild neurological deficits
- Birth defects
Building on the above risks, mild neurological and cognitive deficits in offspring include increased symptoms of ADHD, impaired fine and gross motor skills and impaired explicit memory performance are linked to Diabetic Type 1 mothers. A mechanism for the above deficits may involve prenatal iron deficiency.
High blood sugar is harmful to both the mother and her fetus. If you plan on a pregnancy try and maintain the blood sugar level close to a normal range two to three months in advance of becoming pregnant.
Type II diabetics need insulin instead of oral diabetes medication. Type I diabetics need extra insulin during pregnancy. You need more frequent blood glucose checks to carefully manage your glucose levels in pregnancy.
Tips for diabetics before and during pregnancy.
- Coordinate with your health care team to monitor and achieve blood glucose normal levels
- See a physician experienced in diabetic pregnancies
- Monitor your eyes and kidneys - pregnancy may increase damage to them
- Stop smoking, drinking alcohol or the use of harmful drugs
- Follow the dietary plan of an experienced dietician
If you are already pregnant consult a physician right away. It is not too late to bring blood glucose levels to a normal range so you and your fetus stay healthy during the rest of your pregnancy.