Diabetes and Pregnancy

Diabetes and Pregnancy

According to a recent study conducted by Kaiser Permanente and funded by the ADA, “diabetes before motherhood” has doubled in the last six years. The study is the largest and most diverse to examine type 1 and type 2 women with diabetes in childbearing years. We need this kind of research; we need more information about managing diabetes during pregnancy. However, this report which was released in the May issue of Diabetes Care and has been plastered on Diabetes health, Science Daily and Yahoo news makes some important mistakes. The point of the research, I think, is to encourage women to engage in healthier lifestyles before they get pregnant to decrease the risks of miscarriage and/or birth defects. This is all well and good…..However, as a woman who has been living with type 1 diabetes for 23 years and as a mother to two healthy boys, I am frustrated by this report for the following reasons.

In the study, Kaiser researchers did not look at whether any of the women had prenatal diabetes care or how the babies fared after their birth. They also could not determine the type of diabetes the women had.” (Associated Press, www.physorg.com) Wait, what? They could not determine what type of diabetes these women had??? The study looked at the increase of diabetes in women in childbearing years, and they couldn’t determine whether they were type 1 or type 2!?! The story in the Associated Press shows a photograph of a woman who has type 1 diabetes and is 7 months pregnant with her second child, her beautiful 3 year old daughter smiles in the front corner of the photo. The woman tells the interviewer how when she was pregnant the first time, she checked her blood sugar sometimes 15 times a day. I did that too, I thought and I read on…

The story in Diabetes Health discusses the dangers of high blood sugar during pregnancy, “If a mother’s diabetes is poorly controlled, she can have up to a 25 percent risk of delivering a baby with a major malformation of the heart, brain or skeleton. (But) with excellent care, these women have an excellent chance of having a healthy baby.” Yikes! I think, this is so scary to read and I’m done having children…..I keep reading. In Science Daily, the story explains some of the reasons for the increase in women with diabetes before pregnancy are, “due to the fact that our society has become more overweight and obese.” (www.sciencedaily.com) Okay, I think. Maybe they are not talking about me. So wait a minute, who are they talking about then? I keep reading.

None of these articles differentiate between type 1 and type 2 diabetes. This is what I discover after I print everything out. Research shows:

  1. Diabetes in women of childbearing years has increased
  2. Poorly controlled diabetes can lead to birth defects
  3. The increase is partly due to our obese society
  4. Women can improve the life of their unborn child with diet and exercise.

So….hmmmm…Type 1 diabetes is not on the rise. The study did not bother to separate those of us who must inject ourselves with insulin and those who can “Reverse Diabetes.” (Such a cruel phrase!) The study lumped those of us who have been living with this disease for years with women who have type 2 diabetes, probably not diagnosed until they were in their 20’s (because even though type 2 is on the rise in childhood, the majority are still diagnosed when they are older).

I find it hard to believe that a study funded by the ADA couldn’t bother to group the women according to type 1 or type 2. While I appreciate the challenges every woman faces with type 2 diabetes, I know that her disease is not the same as mine and I resent that these researchers refused to take our differences into consideration. I resent that these researchers are using scare tactics about birth defects to grab the attention of all women with diabetes, type 1 and type 2.

The part that angers me the most about this research is that a woman with type 1 will read these stories and feel afraid to have children. Women with type 1 diabetes can lead healthy, normal lives, have healthy, normal pregnancies and have beautiful, lovely, healthy children. Don’t let this research tell you any different.

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