Whether the mother begins her pregnancy knowing she has diabetes or whether diabetes is discovered during pregnancy, what is quite clear is that diabetes can result in very significant complications. High blood sugar levels during pregnancy, for example, represent an increased risk of miscarriage and of stillbirth.

There is a recognisable increase in the rate of foetal malformations and particularly of congenital heart disease.

This is related to high blood glucose levels during the early stage of the baby’s development. There is increased risk of pre-eclampsia in the mother and an increased risk that the baby will be overly large. These latter problems in themselves contribute to the increase in Caesarean sections noted by the many studies comparing the outcome of diabetic mothers compared to the background population.

In short diabetes can result in serious consequences for both mother and child. However, it has been shown in many recent studies that good diabetes control can avoid many of the complications of pregnancy. Optimum diabetes management is required both before conception and throughout the pregnancy.