My daughter is 18 years of age and she has diabetes. Please say something about the her chances to have a healthy baby.
Times have definitely changed for the young woman with diabetes. It is now reasonable for a young woman with diabetes to plan to have her own family.
Before the discovery of insulin, diabetic pregnancies were almost unheard of. Until about 25 years ago, many physicians discouraged women with diabetes from attempting pregnancy, since the risks of health problems for both the mother and child were too great. However, with the development of home blood sugar testing to help take care of diabetes, it is possible for a young woman with diabetes to plan to have her own family.
The decision to have a child is a major decision for a diabetic woman. The pregnancy will be a high risk situation, with respect to physical health, emotional responses, and financial concerns. It will require close cooperation between the patient, her obstetrician, her diabetes doctor, and a pediatrician.
There are substantial risks involved in these pregnancies. There is a higher than average chance of miscarriage and of major abnormalities in the developing fetus. Fortunately, it is now possible for obstetricians to identify some of these abnormalities early in the pregnancy. This allows the parents to know about the problem and plan accordingly.
The best chance for a normal pregnancy will occur when the diabetes is brought under excellent control before the pregnancy begins. The young woman can begin to work to control her blood sugar levels months before the planned conception. The idea of "tight control" means aiming for normal glycohemoglobin values, probably increasing the number of daily insulin injections (or using an insulin pump), doing multiple blood sugar tests every day, and dealing with the likelihood of occasional insulin reactions.
It's a lot of work. But, when the glycohemoglobin can be brought into the normal range before conception, and when tight control of the blood sugar is maintained throughout the pregnancy, it is clear that the chances of a successful pregnancy will improve considerably.
Additional information about pregnancy and family planning can be found on the Internet.
(This essay was originally published by the Midwest Diabetes Care Center, and is modified and used with permission.)
Original posting 16 Sep 96
Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:08:52
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