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Ask the Expert: I'm diabetic and have just found out I'm pregnant

Diabetes consultant Dr Eleanor Scott explains how raised blood glucose levels in pregnancy can lead to complications.

Mums-to-be with diabetes will have their health closely monitored by their hospital's Diabetes in Pregnancy team

I'M DIABETIC and have just found out I'm pregnant. Is my diabetes likely to affect my baby, and how can I best reduce the risk of any effects?

Dr Eleanor Scott, a consultant in diabetes and senior lecturer in medicine at the University of Leeds, says: "Many women with diabetes will have healthy babies, but the chance of experiencing complications increases.

"Diabetes takes a number of forms – types 1 and 2 are pre-existing conditions, and gestational diabetes develops during pregnancy and disappears after the baby is born.

"The key problem is the raised glucose level. If it's not controlled, the excess glucose will pass to the baby, with the result it will get large. That could lead to problems with the birth, the need for a caesarean section and, in tragic cases, stillbirth or babies born with abnormalities.

"You should make sure your blood glucose levels are regularly checked and peaks in blood sugar levels are controlled. That can be done through changes to diet, exercise and medication.

'Women with pre-existing diabetes should ensure they use effective contraception to avoid unplanned pregnancy, because of the increased risks.

"They should contact their GP before they plan to get pregnant so they can get the help needed to ensure their glucose is well controlled beforehand. This significantly reduces problems for the mum and baby during pregnancy.

"As a mum-to-be with diabetes, your health will be closely monitored by your hospital Diabetes in Pregnancy team – so you're not alone in working to keep your baby safe."

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