Diabetes & Pregnancy: Preventing Birth Defects

smiling mother with happy baby boyOne in every 33 babies is born with a birth defect in the United States, and diabetes is one of the major risk factors. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) women diagnosed with diabetes before they become pregnant are three to four times more likely to have a child with one or even multiple birth defects than a mother who does not have diabetes.

January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month, a good time to focus on raising awareness about the frequency with which birth defects occur in the United States and on the steps that can be taken to prevent diabetes-related birth defects.

There are three main types of diabetes:

Type 1: The pancreas makes little or no insulin – a hormone in the body to help get glucose (sugar) into the cells of the body – so the body can’t use blood sugar for energy.

Type 2: The body either makes too little insulin, or the insulin the body makes is unable to help cells use blood sugar for energy.

Gestational: This is a type of diabetes that is similar to type 2, but it is first seen or diagnosed when a woman is pregnant.

Research shows that pregnant women diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes before pregnancy are more likely than a mother with no diabetes or a mother with gestational diabetes to…