NICE clinical guidelines
Issued: March 2008 (last modified: July 2008)

Diabetes in pregnancy: Management of diabetes and its complications from pre-conception to the postnatal period

This is an extract from the guidance. The complete guidance is available at


There have been changes to some recommendations in this guideline since publication. This web version contains the current wording of the recommendations. For information about the changes see the web summary page for the guideline.

Diabetes is a disorder of carbohydrate metabolism that requires immediate changes in lifestyle. In its chronic forms, diabetes is associated with long-term vascular complications, including retinopathy, nephropathy, neuropathy and vascular disease. Approximately 650,000 women give birth in England and Wales each year, and 2–5% of pregnancies involve women with diabetes. Approximately 87.5% of pregnancies complicated by diabetes are estimated to be due to gestational diabetes (which may or may not resolve after pregnancy), with 7.5% being due to type 1 diabetes and the remaining 5% being due to type 2 diabetes. The prevalence of type 1 and type 2 diabetes is increasing. In particular, type 2 diabetes is increasing in certain minority ethnic groups (including people of African, black Caribbean, South Asian, Middle Eastern and Chinese family origin).

Diabetes in pregnancy is associated with risks to the woman and to the developing fetus. Miscarriage, pre-eclampsia and preterm labour are more common in women with pre-existing diabetes. In addition, diabetic retinopathy can worsen rapidly during pregnancy. Stillbirth, congenital malformations, macrosomia, birth injury, perinatal mortality and postnatal adaptation problems (such as hypoglycaemia) are more common in babies born to women with pre-existing diabetes.

This clinical guideline contains recommendations for the management of diabetes and its complications in women who wish to conceive and those who are already pregnant. The guideline builds on existing clinical guidelines for routine care during the antenatal, intrapartum and postnatal periods. It focuses on areas where additional or different care should be offered to women with diabetes and their newborn babies.

Where the evidence supports it, the guideline makes separate recommendations for women with pre-existing diabetes (type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes and other forms of diabetes, such as maturity onset diabetes of the young) and gestational diabetes. The term 'women' is used in the guideline to refer to all females of childbearing age, including young women who have not yet transferred from paediatric to adult services.

The guideline will assume that prescribers will use a drug's summary of product characteristics (SPC) to inform their decisions for individual women.