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Diabetes is a condition marked by high levels of glucose (sugar) in the blood. More than 18 million Americans live with diabetes. Treatments include making wise food choices, exercising regularly, and controlling blood pressure and cholesterol.

  • Type 1 diabetes, formerly called juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, is usually first diagnosed in children, teenagers, or young adults. The pancreas no longer makes insulin, a protein hormone that regulates blood sugar levels, because the body's immune system has destroyed the pancreas' beta cells. Treatment for type 1 diabetes includes insulin, diet management and exercise.
  • Type 2 diabetes, formerly called adult-onset diabetes or noninsulin-dependent diabetes, is the most common form of the disease. It may be seen in children, but is more common in adults. The pancreas does not make enough insulin, and the fat, muscle, or liver cells do not use it properly. Being overweight can increase the chances of developing type 2 diabetes. You may need to take diabetes medication or insulin shots to stabilize your condition.
  • Gestational diabetes is a condition that some women develop during the late stages of pregnancy. Although this form of diabetes usually goes away after the baby is born, a woman who has had it is more likely to develop type 2 diabetes later in life.

Staying healthy while pregnant

If you have diabetes:

  • It is a good idea to meet with your doctor at least five months before becoming pregnant. It is recommended that your hemoglobin AC level be below 7 percent for at least three months prior to conception.
  • You will need to speak with your doctor or nurse frequently throughout your pregnancy, generally 1-2 times per week.
  • You will need to plan your diet and exercise very carefully, and keep careful records of glucose levels and medications. You will be asked to check your blood sugar at least four times per day during pregnancy.

Increased risks for diabetics

Your general health going into pregnancy will be an important factor for determining your risks.

  • Preeclampsia
  • Premature birth or poor growth
  • Birth of a baby weighing more than nine pounds, which brings an increased risk of prolonged labor and shoulder displacement
  • Birth defects and stillbirth
  • Kidney disease or blood pressure problems for the mother

Pregnancy's impact on diabetes

  • Pregnancy decreases the body’s ability to use insulin, so you may need higher medication doses, although your body's need for insulin may decrease toward the end of your pregnancy. Medication requirements dramatically decrease immediately after birth, and then gradually increase over the following weeks. Most women need only a small amount of medication in the first few days post-partum.
  • Women who have complications from their diabetes, such as problems with their kidneys or retinas, will need to have those conditions monitored.
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