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The NDSS is administered by Diabetes Australia
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‘Keeping an eye’ on your eyes

EyesFor all people living with diabetes, regular eye checks are needed to prevent and detect diabetes-related eye problems early on.

This is especially important for women living with type 1 or type 2 diabetes who are planning for pregnancy, as eye problems may first appear, or existing problems worsen, during pregnancy.

Diabetes and your eyes

Over time, diabetes can sometimes cause damage to the eyes.

Retinopathy is the most common eye problem for people living with diabetes. It can occur when high blood glucose levels over a long period of time cause damage to the small blood vessels in the back of your eye. If retinopathy is left untreated, your vision can be affected.

In the early stages of retinopathy, there will be no symptoms or changes to your vision, but an eye check can identify any problems at an early stage. If detected early, changes to the eyes can be treated very effectively before it becomes more serious and affects your vision.


Sometimes eye problems can first appear, or existing problems worsen, during pregnancy. These problems can be a result of any existing diabetes-related damage to the eyes, blood glucose levels before and during pregnancy, and the pregnancy itself. Women with other medical problems, such as high blood pressure, are at higher risk.

Eye checks

Before pregnancy

Make an appointment to see an optometrist or an ophthalmologist (eye specialist) to have the back of your eyes checked.

Make sure they know you have diabetes. If you have damage to the small blood vessels at the back of the eye (retinopathy), this needs to be assessed by a medical eye specialist (ophthalmologist). Ask your eye specialist if you need any treatment before pregnancy. It is important that your eyes are stable before you fall pregnant.

Rapid improvements in blood glucose levels can increase the risk of developing eye problems or make any existing eye complications worse. If your blood glucose levels are well above the target range recommended for pregnancy, trying to reduce your HbA1c slowly before you become pregnant can reduce the risk of these problems occurring.

During pregnancy

If you have eye problems that become worse during pregnancy, laser treatment is safe if you need it. You will need to have your eyes checked regularly throughout the pregnancy and then again, a couple of months after your baby is born. Any eye problems that may have developed during pregnancy tend to improve after the birth, usually by the time the baby is six months old.

For more information planning for pregnancy and eye checks, talk to your diabetes health care professionals.

Seeking feedback on the NDSS Having a healthy baby booklets – your chance to win a Fitbit!

Booklet coverDiabetes Australia is seeking women living with type 1 or type 2 diabetes who are planning for pregnancy, currently pregnant or who have recently had a baby to review the NDSS Having a healthy baby booklet.

To participate you will be asked to read the booklet then answer a short survey to provide your feedback.

At the end of the survey you can go into the draw to win a Fitbit Versa Lite Smartwatch (valued at $249.95).

Survey closes 31 January 2020. Participate here.

For more information about the booklet review contact Mel Morrison, NDSS Diabetes in Pregnancy National Advisor.

Australian study of breastfeeding among women with diabetes 

BreastfeedingBreastfeeding has been shown to have many benefits for mother and baby.

Australian researchers recently surveyed women living with type 1 or type 2 diabetes both during and after pregnancy, about breastfeeding.

More than two-thirds of women (68%) reported that they were breastfeeding at 3 months and intention to breastfeed before birth was found to be a predictor of actual breastfeeding. The authors identified pregnancy as an important opportunity for health professionals to provide education and support for women with pre-pregnancy diabetes about their breastfeeding intentions.

Research shows CGM in pregnancy is cost effective 

Two women talkingRecent research out of the UK has found that continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) use in pregnant women with type 1 diabetes is cost effective.

The CONCEPTT study group reported that compared to using self-blood glucose monitoring (SBGM) alone, using real time-CGM along with SBGM with throughout pregnancy resulted in approximately 40% lower health care costs.

These savings were related to the lower rates of admission to neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) among infants born to mothers using CGM as well as shorter length of stay for babies needing a NICU stay.

The authors concluded that routine use of real time-CGM in pregnancy by women with type 1 diabetes is cost effective for the health care system.

*Noting this is UK research, comparative data is not currently available for Australia.

FAQ: Does having type 1 diabetes increase the risk of my child developing diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes occurs when the immune system, the body’s system for fighting infection, destroys the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin

The exact cause of type 1 diabetes is not known. However, we do know that for a person to develop type 1 diabetes they need to carry certain genes that increase their risk, and they also need something to trigger the auto-immune process. While it’s not known what the triggers are, they are thought to be things in our environment, such as viruses.

pregnant coupleMany women with type 1 diabetes understandably worry about their child developing this condition. Like many health conditions, the risk of type 1 diabetes depends on many different factors such as genetics, race/ethnicity, where you live, and factors in the environment. 

Overall, a child born to a parent with type 1 diabetes is at slightly higher risk of developing type 1 diabetes than children of parents without diabetes. However, it’s important to know that your baby will not be born with type 1 diabetes.

The statistics below give an overview of the risks:

According to data from the American Diabetes Association:

  • If you are a woman with type 1 diabetes and your child was born before you were 25, your child’s risk is about 4%. If your child was born after you turned 25, your child’s risk is approximately 1%.
  • If you developed type 1 diabetes before age 11, your child’s risk is double the above figures.
  • For a man with type 1 diabetes, the risk of your child developing diabetes is about 6%.
  • If both you and your partner have type 1 diabetes, the risk is between 10-25%.

While the numbers may seem complicated, keep in mind that most people with type 1 diabetes don’t have others with type 1 diabetes in their family, so genetics is not the only factor involved.

For type 1 diabetes to develop, a person needs a background genetic risk, as well as something to trigger the auto-immune process. So while the genes a child inherits from their parents can influence their risk, that doesn’t necessarily mean that type 1 diabetes will develop.

This information is intended as a guide only. It should not replace individual medical advice. If you have any concerns, or further questions, you should contact your health professionals for more information and advice.

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