The latest estimates say almost 26 million Americans have diabetes. Many are middle aged or older. And, unfortunately some are children and teenagers with either Type II diabetes, often sparked by obesity, or Type I, often called “juvenile diabetes.” There are also a good number of people in their 20s and 30s – prime years to start a family.
Does diabetes require attention if you are a pregnant woman in that group? The answer is absolutely yes! Diabetes can set the stage for serious complications. In the worst case, it can lead to death of the mother AND the baby.
Kerra Lynch, a 32-year-old wedding planner from Puyallup, Wash. knows about the dangers and she did not want anything to threaten her pregnancies. She was diagnosed with Type I diabetes at age four.
Through the years her ability and determination to manage her blood sugar varied. But she knew pregnancy was a critical time to get it right. Unchecked diabetes can lead to birth defects in the baby and raise the risk of stroke in the mom.
Kerra did the smart thing and sought care from the Diabetes and Pregnancy Clinic at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle. That’s where there is careful monitoring and lots of nutritional and family counseling.
Kerra’s earlier pregnancy went well. But just recently, with her second child, there were concerns that preeclampsia, a life-threatening condition fueled by high blood pressure, could get out of hand.
Kerra was hospitalized for 31 days and carefully monitored. Little Kody was born healthy and mom and baby are doing great.
Dr. Zane Brown, Kerra’s doctor and a world-renowned expert on diabetes and pregnancy, says women with diabetes, or who develop gestational diabetes during an earlier pregnancy, need to be considered “high risk.” He says problems that diabetes can cause in pregnancy must, as much as possible, be headed off before they occur.
And the key, he says, is planning a pregnancy with your diabetes team BEFORE conception. That’s because diabetes can begin to cause birth defects in the earliest weeks of pregnancy, before a woman even realizes she may be pregnant.