Researchers also found that women with Type 1 who planned for pregnancy had lower A1C scores at conception and reported better health outcomes during pregnancy.
The results of a recent T1D Exchange study underscored the value of prepping for a pregnancy with Type 1 diabetes. The study found that women with Type 1 diabetes who planned their pregnancies had lower average A1C scores at the point of conception, and that a lower starting A1C score seems to be associated with the possibility of better health outcomes in certain aspects of pregnancy. The yet-unpublished results were presented at the SSEP 21st Annual National Research Conference.
For the study, a team of researchers designed a 60-question survey that was answered by 599 adult women with Type 1 diabetes who were pregnant at the time of the survey or who had given birth in the last decade. From those responses, researchers analyzed the data of the 533 respondents who had given birth or were pregnant at the time of the survey within the United States. Some 72.6 percent of women with Type 1 surveyed said they planned their pregnancies; that’s much higher than the national average of 55 percent.
One of the starkest findings of the study is that women with Type 1 diabetes have a much higher rate of preeclampsia than the average population. In the survey, 29 percent of respondents with Type 1 said they have or had preeclampsia during pregnancy; overall, preeclampsia occurs in just four percent of U.S. pregnancies.
Preeclampsia is a condition that can occur during pregnancy and postpartum; it can cause high blood pressure, protein in urine, and swelling. If left untreated, it can lead to serious and potentially life-threatening complications for both baby and mother. While it is treatable, symptoms of preeclampsia are not always caught in time, and sometimes doctors don’t realize that the condition can occur and grow more serious for women after birth. A recent series of reports by ProPublica and NPR on maternal health found that preeclampsia is one of the leading causes of maternal mortality in the United States.
While preeclampsia may be more common for women with Type 1 during pregnancy and postpartum, researchers found that women with higher A1C scores in the survey tended to get preeclampsia earlier in the pregnancy than those surveyed with lower A1C scores; women with higher A1C scores also had a higher rate of C-section births. The researchers also found that those surveyed with lower A1C scores had a reduced number of severe bouts of hypoglycemia.
The researchers said more study was needed to determine the connection between Type 1 diabetes and preeclampsia rates. However, they said the study confirmed the importance of planning for pregnancy with Type 1 diabetes, as well as the need for careful screening for preeclampsia among pregnant and postpartum women with Type 1 diabetes.