Diabetes and pre-eclampsia

If you have diabetes in pregnancy, you are at higher risk of pre-eclampsia.

Pre-eclampsia is a pregnancy condition that combines high blood pressure and protein in your urine. If you have diabetes you are at higher risk of pre-eclampsia, especially if this is your first pregnancy or you have some nephropathy (kidney problem). Pre-eclampsia literally means 'before eclampsia'. If it is not treated, it can develop into a more dangerous condition known as eclampsia, which can cause convulsions or, in rare cases, the death of the mother or the baby. This is why it is important to spot the problem early and manage it safely.

The main symptoms of pre-eclampsia are raised blood pressure, combined with the presence of protein in the urine, but the symptoms of mild pre-eclampsia are often not obvious. This is why your healthcare team conduct routine blood pressure checks and urine tests during pregnancy.

If you have the following symptoms, contact your healthcare team straight away so they can do further tests and help you manage the condition safely:

  • severe headache that doesn’t go away with simple painkillers
  • problems with vision, such as blurring or flashing before the eyes
  • severe pain just below the ribs
  • heartburn that doesn’t go away with antacids
  • swelling of the face, hands or feet
  • vomiting
  • feeling very unwell.

Treatment may include bed rest and medication to reduce your blood pressure. If you have severe pre-eclampsia, you may need to have an emergency caesarean.

"Today, my children are both really healthy – physically and mentally. If you were going to make any comparisons, you wouldn't think anything different had happened to them than any other baby." Nadia, mum of two

Read more about pre-eclampsia

Read more about the effects of diabetes in pregnancy

More sections on type 1 or 2 diabetes in pregnancy

Last reviewed on September 1st, 2015. Next review date September 1st, 2017.

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