Diabetes Alert Day

Today is Diabetes Alert Day, a day designed to raise awareness about this condition. Diabetes is a condition in which your body has too much sugar in the blood (called blood sugar or glucose). If untreated, diabetes can cause problems for you and your baby during pregnancy. Having good control of your blood sugar is key to prevent complications for you and your baby.

Preexisting diabetes means you have diabetes before you get pregnant. This is different from gestational diabetes, which is a kind of diabetes that some women get during pregnancy.

If it’s not managed well, preexisting and gestational diabetes can cause problems during and after pregnancy, including: 

  • Perinatal depression. This is depression that happens during pregnancy or in the first year after having a baby. Depression is a medical condition that causes feelings of sadness and a loss of interest in things you like to do. It can affect how you feel, think and act and can interfere with your daily life. It needs treatment to get better.
  • Preeclampsia. This is when a pregnant woman has high blood pressure and signs that some of her organs, like her kidneys and liver, may not be working properly.
  • Premature birth. This is birth before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Premature babies are more likely than full-term babies to have health problems at birth and later in life.
  • Having a very large baby, weighing more than 9 pounds. Weighing this much makes your baby more likely to get hurt during labor and birth. You may need to have a cesarean birth (also called c-section) to keep your baby safe.
  • Stillbirth. The death of a baby in the womb after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Preexisting diabetes also can cause birth defects and miscarriage. Birth defects are health conditions that are present at birth. They can cause problems in overall health, how the body develops, or in how the body works. Miscarriage is when a baby dies in the womb before 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Gestational diabetes also can cause health complications for your baby after birth, including breathing problems, low blood sugar and jaundice. Jaundice is a medical condition in which a baby’s eyes and skin look yellow. A baby has jaundice when his liver isn’t fully developed or isn’t working well.

If you have gestational diabetes, can you prevent diabetes later in life?

Gestational diabetes usually goes away after you have your baby. But if you have it, you’re more likely to develop type 2 diabetes later in life. Type 2 diabetes is the most common kind of diabetes. To help reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes after pregnancy:

  • Breastfeed. Breastfeeding can help you lose weight after pregnancy. Being overweight makes you more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.
  • Get tested for diabetes 6 to 12 weeks after your baby is born. If the test is normal, get tested again every 3 years. If the test shows you have prediabetes, get tested once a year. Prediabetes means your blood sugar levels are slightly higher than they should be but not high enough to have diabetes.
  • Get to and stay at a healthy weight.

If you have a family history of diabetes or you think you may be at risk for it, talk to your health care provider.

To learn more visit: marchofdimes.org