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Diabetes, pregnancy and mental health: a tricky triad

02 August 2019
8 min read
Volume 27 · Issue 8

Abstract

Pregnancy can be a difficult for any woman, but adding diabetes into the equation may increase stress. Women who develop mental health issues either before or during pregnancy can have an even more difficult time and health professionals need to be able to support and manage these issues in order to guide these women safely through their pregnancy and beyond.

Diabetes is one of the most common complications of pregnancy and encompasses gestational diabetes mellitus, which is diagnosed during pregnancy; and pre-existing diabetes, which includes type 1 diabetes mellitus, type 2 diabetes mellitus and other rare specific types of diabetes (American Diabetes Association, 2011). The prevalence of type 1 and type 2 diabetes is increasing. In particular, type 2 diabetes is increasing in specific minority ethnic groups including people of African, black Caribbean, south Asian and Middle Eastern family origin (Confidential Enquiry into Maternal and Child Health (CEMACH), 2005). Approximately 87.5% of pregnancies complicated by diabetes are estimated to be due to gestational diabetes mellitus, with 7.5% being due to type 1 diabetes and the remaining 5% to type 2 diabetes (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), 2015). In addition, there is little published evidence on the effect of diabetes in pregnancy on mental health. Although many articles have researched diabetes and pregnancy, or pregnancy and mental health, few have researched all three together.

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