(KUTV)-There are some pregnancy risks associated with uncontrolled diabetes.
Nurse Al Romeo, with the Utah Department of Health, sat down to discuss the importance of managing diabetes while pregnant.
Every woman starts out with a 3% to 5% chance of having a baby with a birth defect, but uncontrolled diabetes increases that risk to about 5% to about 20% for very poorly controlled diabetes. Diabetes is one of the most common risks for birth defects.
Diabetes screening, through a fasting blood glucose test, is often a part of annual physical checkups and a good way for women to determine if they have diabetes or prediabetes before they become pregnant. Women with diabetes should work with their provider to control their diabetes before they get pregnant.
Some of the birth defects associated with uncontrolled diabetes include birth defects in the spine, heart, bones, urinary tract, reproductive tract, and digestive system. Other risks include greater risk for miscarriage, stillbirth, pre-eclampsia, and polyhydramanios (too much fluid around the baby).
At birth, babies born to moms with diabetes are at greater risk for being large (sometimes over 10 pounds), having breathing difficulties, jaundice, and low blood sugar. During pregnancy, the doctor may recommend different tests, such as an ultrasound and echocardiogram to look at the heart, to determine if the baby is developing properly.
Insulin is commonly used to control diabetes during pregnancy and the insulin does not increase the risks for birth defects. Gestational diabetes usually develops later in pregnancy, after those structures like the heart are already formed, so there is less of a risk in pregnancy. But it still needs to be controlled well to prevent the other problems that baby could have at birth such as breathing problems.
For breastfeeding, moms should also control their diabetes to help produce milk and to prevent hypoglycemia, low blood sugar, in the infant.
If you have questions about your medications or exposures, you can talk to a teratogen information specialist about your specific situation and medications by visiting MotherToBaby.utah.gov or calling 801-328-2229.
For more information on diabetes during pregnancy, click here.