Diabetes - Effects on Mother And Baby

How Do People Get Diabetes?

While it is not known exactly how people get diabetes, it does seem apparent that both genetics and personal lifestyle have a part to play in who gets the disease. Sometimes diabetes ‘runs' in a family. Obesity, poor eating habits and lack of exercise seem to be precursors for Type 2 diabetes in many people. In some cases Type 2 diabetes may be controlled by losing weight, eating well and exercising regularly. Many people with Type 2 diabetes use medication or injections along with lifestyle disciplines to control their illness.

Type 1, Type 2 And Gestational Diabetes

There is a difference between Types 1 and 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes occurs in a woman who has never had diabetes but develops it during her pregnancy. In many cases, it goes away after the birth of the baby and may recur in the next pregnancy. Sometimes women with gestational diabetes will develop Type 2 diabetes later.

Both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are often present before a woman gets pregnant. Type 1 diabetes must be controlled with a combination of diet, exercise and insulin. Type 2 diabetes may be controlled with diet and exercise, or it may require pills or injections along with diet and exercise in order to control.

What Happens When A Woman With Type 1 or 2 Diabetes Gets Pregnant?

If a woman has Type1 or Type 2 diabetes becomes pregnant, she must keep a tight rein on her condition. If she does not control the diabetes well she becomes subject to many of the problems associated with diabetes, including blindness, high blood pressure, kidney disease and heart problems. On top of that, if her blood sugar is out-of-control, she may miscarry or have a stillbirth. High blood pressure during pregnancy can cause an early delivery and could also cause seizures or a stroke in the woman during labor and delivery. If the baby is very large, this could cause complications for both mother and baby during the birthing process.

How Gestational Diabetes May Affect A Woman

A woman with gestational diabetes needs to control her blood sugar in order to avoid problems such as high blood pressure, early delivery or the need for a caesarean delivery. The baby may be extra large which will cause discomfort in the later stages of pregnancy and difficulties in delivering the baby. If a caesarean is required, the healing period is much longer than recovery from a natural birth. She may also miscarry or have a stillbirth.

The Effects Of Diabetes On An Unborn Baby

The baby of a woman with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes may be born with birth defects, especially if the blood sugar is out-of-control. Since the organs form in the first two months of gestation, damage can be caused to the brain, spine and heart. The baby may grow too large and suffer nerve damage in the birth canal during the birthing process. This can happen in cases of gestational diabetes as well. Preterm birth may cause breathing problems, bleeding in the brain, heart problems and difficulties with the intestines and vision. Low birth weight leads to poor eating, inability to stay warm and failure to gain weight.

Many of these conditions can also appear in the baby of a woman with gestational diabetes, although there is a lesser chance of birth defects because the diabetes develops later in pregnancy, usually after the baby's organs are formed.


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