Diabetes triples women's risk for birth defects

Women who have diabetes before becoming pregnant are about three times as likely as other women to have a baby with at least one birth defect, U.S. researchers said on Wednesday.

Diabetes triples women's risk for birth defects
A variety of different birth defects are associated with mothers who have type 1 diabetes, also called juvenile diabetes, or type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the disease that is linked to obesity, the researchers said.

These included defects of the heart, brain, spine, limbs, kidneys and gastrointestinal tract, penile and ear abnormalities and cleft palate, the researchers wrote in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

"This study documents the fact that diabetes is associated with a wider range of defects than we had been aware of in the past," Dr. Adolfo Correa of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who led the study, said in a telephone interview.

Correa said it appears that the condition called gestational diabetes is not associated with an increased risk of birth defects. This is a short-lived form of diabetes that can appear in a woman during pregnancy, but blood sugar levels usually return to normal shortly after the baby is born.

But Correa said some cases diagnosed as gestational diabetes may actually be type 2 diabetes that simply had gone unrecognized until the pregnancy.

The study involved 13,030 babies born with birth defects around the United States and 4,895 babies without birth defects, and the researchers determined which of the mothers had diabetes before becoming pregnant.

Women with diabetes had triple the risk of having a baby with birth defects than other women, the researchers said.

"Preconception care is not reaching all women with diabetes the way it ought to. And given the increasing prevalence of diabetes, including diabetes among women of reproductive age in this country and in many parts of the world, this is a call to action to the clinical and public health communities to come up with more effective prevention measures," Correa said.

Correa said doctors who know a woman who is pregnant or planning to become pregnant may consider steps including weight control, diet, exercise and medications.

Reuters
Last Mod: 31 Temmuz 2008, 15:02
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