July 31, 2008

CDC: Diabetes Linked to Birth Defects

Women with diabetes before they become pregnant are three to four times more likely to have a child with one or multiple birth defects, U.S. officials said.

A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, shows that pregnant women with pre-gestational diabetes mellitus -- pre-pregnancy diagnosis of diabetes, such as type 1 or type 2 diabetes -- are more likely than a mother with no diabetes or a mother with gestational diabetes mellitus, pregnancy-induced diabetes, to have a child with various types of individual or multiple birth defects.

The birth defects include: heart defects, defects of the brain and spine, oral clefts, defects of the kidneys and gastrointestinal tract and limb deficiencies.

Lead author Dr. Adolfo Correa of the CDC's National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities also found that some of the pregnant women with gestational diabetes were more likely to have a child with birth defects.

The continued association of diabetes with a number of birth defects highlights the importance of increasing the number of women who receive the best possible preconception care, especially for those women diagnosed with diabetes, Correa said in a statement. Early and effective management of diabetes for pregnant women is critical in helping to not only prevent birth defects, but also to reduce the risk for other health complications for them and their children.