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Diabetes Health Center

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Type 2 Diabetes Threatens Pregnancy

Birth Defects, Infant Deaths Higher for Women With Type 2 Diabetes
WebMD Health News

Jan. 27, 2005 - Pregnant women with type 2 diabetes risk giving birth to stillborn babies or babies with major birth defects, and the problem is getting worse, new research suggests.

The Danish study found an increasing number of serious birth defects and death among babies born in the 1990s to women with type 2 diabetes compared with the offspring of women with the disease who gave birth a decade earlier.

Pregnant women with type 2 diabetes also had much poorer pregnancy outcomes than women with type 1 diabetes and women without diabetes. They also were four times more likely as women with type 1 diabetes to have babies that died in the womb or at birth, and nine times more likely than women without diabetes.

"Type 2 diabetes in pregnancy is a very serious problem," lead researcher Tine D. Clausen, MD, tells WebMD. "More and more women are developing the disease at earlier ages, and many may not even know that they have it."

Control Is Critical

The incidence of type 2 diabetes has exploded in the United States and in the rest of the industrialized world over the past several decades. Once confined almost entirely to people who were middle-aged or older, type 2 diabetes is being diagnosed more often than ever in younger populations, driven by a dramatic rise in obesity among children and young adults.

The number of Americans diagnosed with diabetes more than doubled between 1980 and 2002, from 5.8 million to 13.3 million, according to figures from the CDC.

According to the American Diabetes Association, the rate of serious birth defects in babies born to women who have their diabetes under control when they become pregnant is similar to that of women without diabetes. The group warns, however, that the rate of birth defects is much higher -- as much as 10% -- among women with poorly controlled diabetes.

In the Danish study, Clausen and colleagues reviewed the medical records of 61 women with type 2 diabetes who gave birth at a hospital in Copenhagen between 1996 and 2001. Their birth outcomes were compared with those of pregnant women with type 1 diabetes and pregnant women without the disease who gave birth between 1980 and 1992.

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