Approximately 700,000 women give birth in England and Wales each year, and up to 5% of these women have either pre‑existing diabetes or gestational diabetes. Of women who have diabetes during pregnancy, it is estimated that approximately 87.5% have gestational diabetes (which may or may not resolve after pregnancy), 7.5% have type 1 diabetes and the remaining 5% have type 2 diabetes. The prevalence of type 1 diabetes, and especially type 2 diabetes, has increased in recent years. The incidence of gestational diabetes is also increasing as a result of higher rates of obesity in the general population and more pregnancies in older women.
Diabetes in pregnancy is associated with risks to the woman and to the developing fetus. Miscarriage, pre‑eclampsia and preterm labour are more common in women with pre‑existing diabetes. In addition, diabetic retinopathy can worsen rapidly during pregnancy. Stillbirth, congenital malformations, macrosomia, birth injury, perinatal mortality and postnatal adaptation problems (such as hypoglycaemia) are more common in babies born to women with pre‑existing diabetes.
This guideline contains recommendations for managing diabetes and its complications in women who are planning pregnancy and those who are already pregnant. The guideline focuses on areas where additional or different care should be offered to women with diabetes and their newborn babies. Where the evidence supports it, the guideline makes separate recommendations for women with pre‑existing diabetes and women with gestational diabetes. The term 'women' is used in the guideline to refer to all females of childbearing age, including young women who have not yet transferred from paediatric to adult services.