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How Can High Diabetes Affect Your Pregnancy?

Written and reviewed by
Dr. Abhay Ahluwalia 89% (91 ratings)
MBBS, MD - General Medicine, DNB, DM - Endocrinology
Endocrinologist, Gurgaon  •  33 years experience
How Can High Diabetes Affect Your Pregnancy?

Pregnancy brings with it the need to be extra careful about the overall well-being of the mother-to-be. Extreme caution has to be taken in managing health, as antibiotics and a lot of other treatment modalities are best avoided during pregnancy. With diabetes becoming common in the younger ages and women choosing to delay pregnancy, there are multiple women who are diabetic and choose to get pregnant later in life.

With diabetes being a chronic and a lifestyle condition, it definitely has its effects on pregnancy. However, the key is to manage diabetes cautiously in such a way that its effects on pregnancy, both the mother and the developing baby, are minimal. The increased blood sugar levels from the mother pass on to the baby, so keeping a close watch on the blood sugar levels is very important.

  1. The maximum effect of diabetes on the baby is during the first few weeks of pregnancy. It is when the vital organs (brain, heart, lungs and kidneys) are forming, and high blood sugar levels can be harmful. This is slightly tricky as most women realise they could be pregnant only after about 6 weeks. If pregnancy is planned, it is best advisable to keep a check on sugar levels much ahead of the pregnancy.
  2. The baby could be used to high levels of sugar while in the womb, and once delivered, it could have too low sugar levels. This needs to be monitored.
  3. Preeclampsia, which is increased protein in the urine and high blood pressure, can happen during the second trimester. This may require the baby to be delivered prematurely.
  4. Babies born to diabetic mothers are often bigger. The baby’s pancreas is used to higher sugar levels and so the extra sugar gets converted to fat, which is the reason for the bigger babies. This may also necessitate C-sections.
  5. Pregnancy can induce the development of diabetic retinopathy, which may prevent vaginal delivery, as the woman may not be able to exert the required pressure.
  6. Abnormal calcium and magnesium levels, which need to be monitored for a while after birth
  7. Most diabetic women reach full term if the sugar levels have been under good control.

Diabetic pregnant women are high at risk. However, with advanced medical care, these risks and complications are managed very well producing healthy babies from normal deliveries with effectively no harm to the mother’s health. Once a diabetic woman tests positive, it is advisable to seek medical help to plan diet/meal plan, physical activities, exercise regimen, lifestyle changes, and medication dose adjustments. This is not a one-time activity, but needs to be closely monitored with daily blood sugar levels throughout the pregnancy. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult an Endocrinologist.

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