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DHSS Press Release

Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Carl Kanefsky, Communications Director
(302) 540-4979, Pager

Date: January 13, 2010


The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) and Delaware Healthy Mother & Infant Consortium is joining the over 350 members of the National Birth Defects Prevention Network to alert women of childbearing age about the critical link between diabetes and increased risk for birth defects. January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month and DPH wants to raise awareness about the importance of addressing diabetes among women of childbearing age.

"All types of diabetes, not just gestational, has been linked to birth defects when the disease is not carefully controlled," says Dr. Karyl Rattay, DPH Director. Nationally, the prevalence of diabetes in women of childbearing age has doubled in the last decade, affecting 1.3 million nationwide and approximately 1,140 women of childbearing age in the state of Delaware.

Babies born to women with diabetes, especially women with poor diabetes control are at greater risk for birth defects. And, although diabetes has been identified as a public health concern, the general public is unaware of the complications that uncontrolled diabetes can have on both the pregnant woman and her baby.

Studies have demonstrated that the key to a healthy pregnancy for women with diabetes is keeping blood glucose in target range -both before and during pregnancy.

"Getting as healthy as possible before pregnancy, taking a multivitamin everyday and managing diabetes through medication, diet and exercise are the best things women can do for their health and the health of their future children, " says Dr. David Paul, Chair of the Delaware Healthy Mother and Infant Consortium.

Women can take other steps in their everyday lives to maintain good health such as having regular health care check ups and learning about family history and genetic risks. Delaware has programs that can help.

For more information on where to go for health care or how to manage diabetes please call the Delaware Helpline at 1-800-464-HELP.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.