Pregnant women with type 1 diabetes need excellent blood sugar control. Fortunately, many diabetic women bring their blood sugar to normal levels during pregnancy. But how do they fare after the baby is born?
A recent study showed that women with type 1 diabetes may have trouble bringing their blood sugar back to levels similar to those during pregnancy. These women may also have a hard time returning to their weight before pregnancy.
According to the study's authors, these findings suggest that women with type 1 diabetes need special attention after delivery to meet the recommended blood sugar and weight levels for people with diabetes.
Katarzyna Cyganek, MD, PhD, of University Hospital in Krakow, Poland, and colleagues set out to look at blood sugar control and weight changes after pregnancy in women with type 1 diabetes.
During pregnancy, the diabetic women lowered their blood sugar but gained weight. After pregnancy, however, both blood sugar and weight increased compared to levels during pregnancy.
Among the results:
- HbA1c (a measure of blood sugar over time) during pregnancy was about 5.7 percent, compared to 6.9 percent before pregnancy. After pregnancy, HbA1c rose by 0.8 percent compared to the last trimester of pregnancy.
- Among women with planned pregnancies, HbA1c was greater a year after delivery than it was before pregnancy. These women had an HbA1c of about 7.1 percent higher a year after delivery, compared to 6.5 percent before pregnancy. Women with unplanned pregnancies had similar HbA1c levels before pregnancy and more than a year after pregnancy (7.3 percent and 7.4 percent, respectively).
- Body weight was about 142 pounds before pregnancy. During pregnancy, women gained about 31.75 pounds. Within 6 months after delivery, women gained about 9.7 pounds compared to their weight before pregnancy.
- Body mass index, or BMI (a measure of body fat using height and weight), was about 23.9 kg/m2 before pregnancy. Within 6 months after delivery, BMI increased by about 2.5 kg/m2 compared to BMI before pregnancy.
- Both weight and BMI did not return to similar levels before pregnancy. Women were about 5.5 pounds heavier than they were before pregnancy and had a BMI that was 0.9 kg/m2 higher.
An HbA1c of 5.6 percent or less is considered normal. People with levels at 6.5 percent or higher are typically diagnosed with diabetes. For many patients, the goal is to keep levels at or below 7 percent.
A BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 kg/m2 is considered a healthy weight. Levels of 25 to 29.9 kg/m2 are considered overweight. A BMI over 30 is considered obese. Because pregnant women are carrying another human and are expected to put on weight, these levels vary during pregnancy.
This observational study was published December 28 in Diabetes Care, a journal of the American Diabetes Association.