How Diabetes, Obesity, and Hypertension Can Affect Pregnancy

People with diabetes, obesity, and hypertension must take special precautions before conceiving and carrying a child. These diseases can affect the development of the child and the health of the mom. Women should aim to learn more about these conditions before getting pregnant.

 

DIABETES AND PREGNANCY

People with diabetes need to take special care to monitor blood glucose levels during pregnancy. Heightened levels lead to the development of toxemia, or preeclampsia, a condition causing high blood pressure during pregnancy. Preeclampsia tends to occur late in pregnancy and if left untreated, leads to eclampsia.

Lack of proper diabetes management can also lead to birth defects affecting the baby’s heart, brain, respiratory system, and spine. Diabetic women can also miscarry, give birth prematurely, or birth a stillborn if glucose levels are too high. People with diabetes who have eye or kidney problems must be very careful because these conditions can worsen during pregnancy.

 

WILL HYPERTENSION AFFECT ME?

Hypertension is another name for high blood pressure. Often, hypertension is grouped with diabetes. With hypertension, the force of blood against the artery walls is too high. Blood vessels can become damaged, and the person may suffer from a heart attack or stroke. The two main forms of hypertension for pregnant women are gestational and chronic. Chronic hypertension occurs before pregnancy. Gestational hypertension arises after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Hypertension leads to placenta disruptions. The baby can struggle to get oxygen and other nutrients from the placenta and may arrive prematurely or underweight. The placenta can also rupture, disconnecting from the uterus, and causing severe bleeding. Similarly, pregnant women with hypertension may experience brain, heart, kidney, lung, or liver issues if hypertension isn’t properly managed.

 

OBESITY AND PREGNANCY

In many cases, obese women already have diabetes or hypertension. Obese women who don’t have these conditions are at greatest risk for developing the diseases during pregnancy. Obese women can develop gestational diabetes or preeclampsia. These women may also develop sleep apnea and cardiac issues. Obese women also risk miscarriage and stillbirths. Babies born to obese women also have higher chances of suffering from childhood obesity.

 

WHAT CAN I DO?

Women with any of these conditions should speak to a healthcare provider before pregnancy. A physician can help work with a woman to manage these conditions to reduce the risk of pregnancy complications.

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