Spotlight falls on pregnancy and diabetes dangers

By Tessa Johnstone


When Masterton mum Kait Menzies found out she had gestational diabetes, she was worried for her baby - but also disappointed to not be able to eat chocolate during pregnancy.

One in 20 New Zealand women have diabetes whilst pregnant which, if not managed well, can put the health of the mum and child at risk.

High blood glucose levels in the mother around the time of conception and in the early stages of pregnancy can increase a baby's risk of developing abnormalities to the heart, spine and kidneys, and can increase the chance of miscarriage.

Diabetes in pregnancy is the theme of this year's Diabetes Awareness Week, which ends today.

Ms Menzies had her glucose tested when she was 30 weeks pregnant, and her levels were found to be higher than normal. A second test confirmed she had gestational diabetes.

Her first concern was for her baby, who would have a chance of being born large and having a higher chance of obesity, being born small, still born or having very low blood glucose levels after birth.

Ms Menzies met a diabetes nurse who worked with her and partner Luke Davies to learn how to manage it for the duration of her pregnancy and minimise the risk to their child.

"I had to cut out everything with sugar in it, check the carb levels of everything I was eating - just being sensible and making sure I was eating regularly."

Ms Menzies had one hypoglycemic attack, but for the most part watching her diet kept it under control.

When now 8-week-old Gabriel was born, the diabetes disappeared, though Kait now has a higher chance of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life.

Diabetes Wairarapa President Mark Davis said there needed to be a spotlight on what is one of the country's most serious maternal health issues.

"The good news is that most women with diabetes during pregnancy can have a healthy pregnancy by working with their health care team to manage their blood sugar levels. The key is making sure everyone is aware so that they can receive the support and treatment they need to have a healthy pregnancy."

- Wairarapa Times-Age

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