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Soaring rates of diabetes in expectant women

The number of pregnant women with diabetes has more than doubled in six years, according to one of the largest health surveys of expectant mothers.

Doctors in the US looked at 175,249 women who gave birth between 1999 and 2005. Diabetes rose five-fold in the youngest group aged 13 to 19, while it doubled among women aged 20 to 39.

40 per cent increase in diabetes

Women aged 40 and older showed a 40 per cent increase in diabetes. Gestational diabetes (a temporary diabetes diagnosed during pregnancy) remained steady at 8 per cent.

Pregnant women with diabetes and their babies are at increased risk of complications and birth defects.

Research presented at Diabetes UK’s Annual Professional Conference in March 2008, showed that women with diabetes are seven times more likely to have a stillborn baby than other women, whilst caesarean sections and congenital malformations in the babies were more than double the norm.

Reducing the health risks to mother and baby

"The health risks to mother and baby are well known", said Libby Dowling, care advisor for Diabetes UK. "However, many of the risks can be reduced with good blood glucose control before and during pregnancy.

"Good diabetes control can only be achieved if women receive pre-conception counselling and access to specialist services during their pregnancy.”

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