High blood glucose levels at the time of conception in women with diabetes may increase the risk of having a baby with a birth defect, according to a Newcastle University study. Pregnant women with diabetes have four times the risk of having a baby with a birth defect as women who do not have diabetes, with one in 13 babies with a congenital abnormality born to women with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. However, with proper care and blood glucose control, most women with diabetes do not have babies with birth defects. "The good news is that, with expert help before and during pregnancy, most women with diabetes will have a healthy baby," says lead researcher Ruth Bell. The researchers examined the outcomes of more than 400,000 pregnancies, 1,677 to women with diabetes. Although women with diabetes` overall risk of having a baby with a birth defect was seven percent compared to two percent in women without diabetes, those who had well-controlled blood glucose levels had a significantly lower risk. The study emphasizes the importance of careful pre-pregnancy planning and prenatal care for women with diabetes. Diabetes UK recommends that women with diabetes planning to have a baby seek a specialist to help closely monitor and control blood glucose before and during pregnancy. The study also "highlights the importance of using contraception if you are a woman with diabetes who is sexually active but not planning to become pregnant," says Diabetes UK`s Iain Frame. "This is because as well as high blood glucose levels increasing risk of birth defect, some medications taken by people with type 2 diabetes can cause problems in the developing fetus and higher doses of folic acid are needed for women with diabetes to reduce the risk of complications such as spina bifida.”