Women warned of diabetes birth problems

Wed, 16 Aug 2006
Women who suffer from type 1 and type 2 diabetes have been warned this week that their newborn babies are four times as likely as babies with healthy mothers to suffer from birth defects, or in the worst cases, die.

Research by the Confidential Enquiry into Maternal and Child Health (CEMACH), reveals that women who have diabetes face an increased risk of losing their baby during pregnancy.

Babies of women who have diabetes were found to be 3.8 times as likely to die within the first few weeks of life, and are also more likely to face congenital abnormalities. Babies were 3.4 times as likely to be born with serious neural tube defects including Spina Bifida.

The chief executive of Cemach, Richard Congdon, said: "The risk for women with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes is about the same. Prior to conception women should make sure they have their diabetes under control. They should take folic acid at a much higher dose of 5mg from before conception up to the 12th week of pregnancy. This reduces the risk of neural tube defects."

Amanda Eden, the care advisor at Diabetes UK, said: "It is unacceptable that women are losing their babies or giving birth to babies with major defects unnecessarily. We have known about the potential risks to babies of women with diabetes for a long time. Sadly, it appears we are making little progress in tackling the problem. Women with diabetes need to be made fully aware of the importance of good blood glucose control before they become pregnant. Then those looking after them need to ensure that all the right steps are being taken to allow women to effectively reduce those risks."
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