HOLLYWOOD, FLA. — Women need to be better educated about the risks of type 2 diabetes in pregnancy, Dr. Erin Keely said at the annual meeting of the Society for Obstetric Anesthesia and Perinatology.
“Type 2 diabetes is at least as dangerous in pregnancy as type 1 diabetes,” said Dr. Keely of the University of Ottawa.
The incidence of type 2 diabetes is on the rise—largely due to the increasing prevalence of obesity. Since 1991, there has been more than a 60% increase in the prevalence of obesity.
Currently, about 6% of women of childbearing age are morbidly obese (body mass index over 40), and obesity is associated with substantially increased risk of gestational diabetes and type 2 diabetes.
In fact, 90% of women with type 2 diabetes are overweight, Dr. Keely noted.
The problem of increasing type 2 diabetes in pregnancy is compounded by the fact that the age of onset of type 2 diabetes is decreasing, and maternal age is increasing, she said.
Research suggests that type 2 diabetes is associated with double the risk of stillbirth, 2.5 times the risk of perinatal mortality, and 11 times the risk of congenital anomalies as healthy pregnancies.
Hypertension, anesthesia-related mortality, and preeclampsia are also increased.
Furthermore, maternal diabetes appears to have long-term health consequences for offspring, who have a dramatically increased risk of diabetes and other health problems throughout life.
The perception that type 2 diabetes is not as dangerous as type 1 diabetes leaves many pregnant women with the condition with less “prepregnancy optimization,” Dr. Keely noted.
Many of these women do not have specialized care, she explained, and as a result they receive less education about the seriousness of the illness.