Diabetes and Pregnancy

Will my baby have diabetes?

Babies born to mothers with diabetes do not come into the world with diabetes. However, if the mother’s diabetes was not controlled during pregnancy, the baby can very quickly develop low blood sugar after birth and must be watched very closely until his or her body adjusts the amount of insulin it makes.

If the father of the developing baby has diabetes, does his diabetes affect the pregnancy?

Diabetes in the father does not affect the developing baby during pregnancy. However, depending on the type of diabetes the father has, the baby might have a greater chance of developing diabetes later in life.

What can happen to a woman with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes who becomes pregnant?

Pregnancy is a time when a woman’s body goes through lots of changes as it nurtures a developing baby. All women need more nutrients, rest, and energy to grow the baby when they are pregnant. They also need to be physically active.

When a woman with diabetes is pregnant, changes happen in her blood sugar, often quickly. If a woman with diabetes does not keep good control of her blood sugar, she might get some of the common problems of diabetes, or those problems might get worse if she already has them.

Out of control blood sugar could lead to a woman having a miscarriage.

Out of control blood sugar might also cause high blood pressure in a woman during pregnancy, and she will need extra visits to the doctor.

High blood pressure during pregnancy might lead to a baby being born early and also could cause seizures or a stroke (a blood clot in the brain that can lead to brain damage) in the woman during labor and delivery.

Sometimes, out of control blood sugar causes a woman to make extra large amounts of amniotic fluid around the baby which might lead to preterm labor.

Another problem common to a pregnant woman with uncontrolled diabetes is that her baby grows too large.


What can happen to the baby of a woman with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes during pregnancy?

Diabetes in a pregnant woman can cause the baby to have birth defects, miscarry, be born early and have a low birth weight, be stillborn, or grow extra large and have a hard delivery.

A woman who has Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes that is not tightly controlled has a higher chance of having a baby with a birth defect than does a woman without diabetes.

The organs of the baby form during the first two months of pregnancy, often before a woman knows that she is pregnant.

Out of control blood sugar can affect those organs while they are being formed and cause serious birth defects, such as those of the brain, spine, and heart, or can lead to miscarriage of the developing baby.

If the woman’s blood sugar remains out of control throughout the pregnancy, the baby likely will grow extra large.

Out of control diabetes causes the baby’s blood sugar to be high. The baby makes more insulin and uses the extra calories or stores them as fat. The baby is "overfed" and grows extra large.

If the woman with diabetes has problems that lead to a preterm birth, the baby might have breathing problems, heart problems, bleeding into the brain, intestinal problems, and vision problems.

A woman with diabetes might have a baby born on time with low birth weight. A baby with low birth weight might have problems with eating, gaining weight, fighting off infections, and staying warm.


What can happen to a pregnant woman with gestational diabetes?

A pregnant woman who does not have diabetes can develop "gestational diabetes" later in pregnancy. A woman with gestational diabetes will need to watch her blood sugar closely and balance food intake, exercise, and, if needed, insulin shots to keep her blood sugar in control.

If a woman with gestational diabetes does not keep her blood sugar in good control, she could have several problems. She might have an extra large baby, have high blood pressure, deliver too early, or need to have a cesarean section. 

Sometimes gestational diabetes in women does not go away after delivery. These women have converted to Type 2 diabetes. A woman whose diabetes does not go away after delivery will need to manage her diabetes for the rest of her life.

What can happen to the baby of a woman with gestational diabetes?

A woman who has gestational diabetes has less chance of having a baby with a birth defect than does a woman with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. Since gestational diabetes develops later in pregnancy, the baby’s organs are already formed. If her blood sugar is not controlled, a woman with gestational diabetes still has a greater chance of having a stillborn baby than a woman who doesn’t have diabetes.

Can a woman with diabetes prevent the problems to herself and to her baby during pregnancy?

If a woman with diabetes keeps her blood sugar in tight control before and during pregnancy, she can lessen her risk of having a baby with a birth defect to that of a woman who doesn’t have diabetes.

Controlling her blood sugar also reduces the risk that a woman will develop common problems of diabetes, or that the problems will get worse during pregnancy. The baby is less likely to grow extra large during her pregnancy if a woman keeps her blood sugar in tight control.