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Diabetes babies 'at high risk'
Careful planning 'more likely to produce healthy baby'
Babies born to women with diabetes are four times more likely to die at birth than those born to mothers without the condition, say doctors.

A study carried out by doctors in the north-east of England also found that diabetic women were two and a half times more likely to have babies with birth defects.

The doctors compared these findings with figures from Norway.

They found that babies born to women with diabetes in Norway were much less likely to either die or have birth defects.

Figures from the Medical Birth Registry of Norway show that babies born to diabetic women there had a 10 in 1,000 chance of dying. This compared to a 43 in 1,000 chance in the north-east of England, where the study took place.


Risks can be reduced by keeping blood glucose levels in good control

Diabetes UK spokeswoman

Similarly, the risk of a baby born to a woman with diabetes having birth defects was just 29 in 1,000 in Norway. In north east England, the chances of birth defects are 55 in 1,000.

Dr Gillian Haythorne, a consultant physician in Newcastle who carried out the study, suggested that the big differences could be attributed to the way expectant mothers are cared for by the NHS.

She said that in many cases mothers and their infants are transferred to other hospitals because of a lack of space in maternity wards.

She added that the high death rates could be reduced if national standards for the care of "at risk" babies were introduced.

"There are no national standards or targets set by the NHS that relate to this aspect of the health services and across most the United Kingdom there is no strategy for the provision of high risk perinatal care."

Careful planning

A spokeswoman for the charity Diabetes UK said the risks can be reduced with careful planning.

"While women with diabetes and their unborn children are at a greater risk of developing complications during pregnancy compared to women who do not have diabetes, studies have proven that these risks can be reduced by keeping blood glucose levels in good control.

"With adequate medical support and careful planning of the pregnancy, women with diabetes will further minimise the risks to their pregnancy."

She added: "Further research and information is needed to understand the differences in pregnancy outcome between Norway and Britain in order that steps can be taken to provide the best support and care for women with diabetes who want to become pregnant."

The study is published in the latest issue of the British Medical Journal.

See also:

21 Aug 00 | Health
18 Aug 00 | Health
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