Should Diabetes Be Treated During Pregnancy?

A new, big study found that treating women who have diabetes during pregnancy vastly reduces the risk that their babies will become obese during childhood. The correlation between higher blood sugar levels and obesity in the children before age 7 was undeniable. Untreated the child’s risk is nearly double for becoming overweight or obese. Treatment usually involves a special diet, exercise and insulin if necessary. Treated mothers with diabetes have the same weight-related risks for their children as mothers without diabetes.

The danger is also that the mother’s elevated blood sugars can cause the fetus to grow too large necessitating a caesarian section delivery.

Here is an account from one grateful mother:

"I dreaded it because I knew it was going to happen," said Peterson, who lives outside Portland in the town of Scappoose.

With the help of a nutritionist, Peterson said she struggled to change her diet and keep her blood sugar low. During her second pregnancy with now 3-year-old Christian, she needed to use insulin.

"I had to keep telling myself, I'm doing it for my baby, I'm doing it for a healthy baby and I'm doing it for myself," she said.

Peterson said the effort paid off; today both of her sons are healthy and don't have weight problems.

There is talk about lowering the indicator for diabetes, because in the study, children were developing weight problems, even when the mother’s blood sugar levels were not considered diabetic.