YOUR HEALTH: Pregnancy and Type 1 diabetes

You might not know this, but up until a generation or two ago, women with type 1 diabetes were often advised to avoid getting pregnant and having children.
Published: Dec. 15, 2022 at 6:43 AM CST|Updated: Dec. 15, 2022 at 6:44 AM CST
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BALTIMORE, Md. (Ivanhoe Newswire) - You might not know this, but up until a generation or two ago, women with type 1 diabetes were often advised to avoid getting pregnant and having children because of the health risks – both to mom and baby. Medical advances have now made it safe for these young women to have families, with careful planning.

For 25-year-old Elon Barnes, little Robert is the center of her world. “He is just a happy little energetic baby.” Barnes says.

But when Barnes first learned she was pregnant, she knew she would have to work hard for his health and her own. Barnes was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes ten years ago.

“I had actually just learned about diabetes in my high school biology class.” Explains Barnes

With type 1 diabetes, the pancreas produces little or no insulin and patients can have blurry vision, frequent urination and extreme thirst.

Barnes says, “There’s not enough water in the world right now to quench this thirst.”

Diabetes specialist doctor Rachael Oxman says it’s important for women to begin planning before becoming pregnant. “The first trimester is a really tricky period in the pregnancy, that’s when babies forming all of their organs and we want baby to have a healthy spine and healthy heart and diabetes control directly contributes to these things.”

Doctor Oxman says patients should have an A1C, or average blood sugar level, of 6 or 6.5 percent or lower during the first trimester. She says women should not be afraid to take their insulin. “It doesn’t cross the placenta. It doesn’t get to baby.”

Barnes used a continuous glucose monitor to keep a watchful eye on her blood sugar.

Barnes states, “I had to be a very well-behaved diabetic to say the least.”

Hard work, that paid off with a normal delivery and a perfect baby boy.

Doctor Oxman says it’s also critical for new moms with type 1 diabetes to continue to monitor their blood sugars immediately after delivery and in the weeks after that as their bodies recover. It’s also important to select a pediatrician who is familiar with the needs of babies born to moms with type 1. A baby’s pancreas after delivery needs a few days to self-regulate, so their blood sugars need careful monitoring. Elon Barnes says Robert had low blood sugar right after delivery but his system did regulate and has no evidence of diabetes.

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