The risk of birth defects like spina bifida; digestive, musculoskeletal and cardiovascular defects and urinary disease increases four-fold if the pregnant mother has diabetes, say researchers from Newcastle University. Diabetic women had a 7% risk of having a baby with a major birth defect,
compared with about 2% in women without diabetes.
After having analysed data from 401,149 pregnancies between 1996 and 2008, the researchers found that 1,677 women had diabetes and the risk of birth defects rose from 19 in every 1,000 births for women without diabetes to 72 in every 1,000 births for women with diabetes.
Lead researcher, Dr Ruth Bell said, "Many of these anomalies happen in the first four to six weeks. It is a problem when the pregnancy is not intended or when people are not aware they need to talk to their doctors before pregnancy."
The study is published in the journal Diabetologia.