The number of women with Type 2 diabetes who are becoming pregnant has increased by almost 50 per cent in five years.
This is according to the findings of a new research study presented today at Diabetes UK’s Annual Professional Conference 2009.
The study's findings
The study looked at women in the East Anglia region and also suggests that pregnancy complications have fallen during this time as more women are taking folic acid supplements.
Increase in pregnancies
Researchers found that the number of women with Type 2 diabetes who became pregnant between 2002 and 2007 increased from 27.3 per cent to 40.5 per cent.
Drop in complications
Their findings also suggest that serious pregnancy complications, including major congenital malformation, stillbirth and death of the child shortly after birth, fell for women who received pre-pregnancy care.
Reduction in clinic attendance
However, only 27 per cent of women in the study attended specialist pre-pregnancy care clinics.
Other factors increasing risk
As well as having diabetes, the women in the study also had other factors that increased risks during pregnancy:
- 11 per cent of pregnant women were aged over 40 years
- 11 per cent weighed more than 100kg (15st 10lb) at the start of pregnancy.
Appropriate care and support needed
It has been known for some time that women with diabetes have high-risk pregnancies. As more and more women of child-bearing age are being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes it is crucial that they have access to appropriate care and support before and during pregnancy.
To improve the chances of all women with diabetes having a healthy pregnancy, Diabetes UK wants to see them:
- provided with preconception care and counseling that emphasises the need to keep tight control of their diabetes
- encouraged to take appropriate doses of folic acid to reduce the risk of defects.
“Improving access to appropriate care for pregnant women with diabetes must remain a priority," said lead researcher, Dr Helen Murphy, from the University of Cambridge.
"It is worrying to see that attendance to specialised clinics remains low as this is undoubtedly linked to difficult pregnancies.
"We are pleased to see, though, that our efforts to raise awareness of the importance of folic acid may have contributed to the use of the supplement increasing from 31.8 per cent to 40 per cent.”