Diabetes During Pregnancy

Learn about types of diabetes during pregnancy, the percentage of women affected, and what CDC is doing to address this important health topic. Managing diabetes can help women have healthy pregnancies and healthy babies.

What Are the Different Types of Diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease that affects how your body turns food into energy. There are three main types of diabetes: type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes.

With type 1 diabetes, the body doesn’t produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps blood sugar get into the cells to be used for energy.

With type 2 diabetes, the body produces insulin, but does not use it well.

Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that develops during pregnancy.

How Common Is Diabetes During Pregnancy?

In the United States, about 1% to 2% of pregnant women have type 1 or type 2 diabetes and about 6% to 9% of pregnant women develop gestational diabetes. Diabetes during pregnancy has increased in recent years. Recent studies found that from 2000 to 2010, the percentage of pregnant women with gestational diabetes increased 56% and the percentage of women with type 1 or type 2 diabetes before pregnancy increased 37%.

Diabetes in pregnancy varies by race and ethnicity. Asian and Hispanic women have higher rates of gestational diabetes and black and Hispanic women have higher rates of type 1 or type 2 diabetes during pregnancy.

How Might Diabetes Affect My Pregnancy?

Diabetes during pregnancy—including type 1, type 2, or gestational diabetes—can negatively affect the health of women and their babies. For women with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, high blood sugar around the time of conception increases babies’ risk of birth defects, stillbirth, and preterm birth. Additionally, among women with any type of diabetes, high blood sugar throughout pregnancy increases women’s risk of having a cesarean delivery and increases babies’ risk of being born too large and developing obesity or type 2 diabetes in the future.

What Should I Do if I Have Diabetes?

Before Pregnancy

doctor and woman

For women with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, it’s important to see your doctor before getting pregnant. Preconception care (preventive health care before and between pregnancies) provides an opportunity to discuss changes in blood sugar levels, make adjustments to monitoring and medications, and check for and treat related health problems, such as high blood pressure.

During Pregnancy

woman taking blood sugar

Managing diabetes can help you have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. To manage your diabetes, see your doctor as recommended, monitor your blood sugar levels, follow a healthy eating plan developed with your doctor or dietician, be physically active, and take insulin as directed (if needed). Learn more about how to manage type 1 or type 2 diabetes during pregnancy and gestational diabetes.

After Pregnancy

doctor and a mother

Women who had gestational diabetes are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes later in life. If you had gestational diabetes, it’s important to see your doctor to get tested for diabetes 4 to 12 weeks after your baby is born. If you don’t have diabetes at that time, continue to get tested every 1 to 3 years to make sure your blood sugar levels are in a healthy range.

To help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, follow these steps:

  • Achieve a healthy body mass index. Obesity is a strong risk factor for diabetes; losing even a few pounds can help prevent type 2 diabetes.
  • Increase physical activity to 30 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week. You can break up your activity into smaller chunks of time—for example, a brisk 10-minute walk 3 times a day.
  • Make healthy food choices. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, limit fat intake to 30% or less of daily calories, and limit portion size to help improve weight loss and prevent type 2 diabetes.

Women who had gestational diabetes or who develop prediabetes can also participate in the CDC-recognized diabetes prevention lifestyle change program. Find a CDC-recognized lifestyle change class near you, or join one of the online programs.

What Is CDC Doing?

Find out what CDC is doing related to diabetes during pregnancy.

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