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Diabetes in Pregnancy


Celeste P. Durnwald, MD
Dr. Celeste Durnwald

Between 14 and 16 million people have diabetes in the Unites States. It's a disease where the body cannot properly break down and use food for energy.

Sometimes women develop diabetes while they're pregnant, called gestational diabetes. The hormone, insulin, helps sugar move from the blood stream into the body’s cells. If a woman gets gestational diabetes, it means there is a problem with her insulin -- that she has high blood sugar during pregnancy.

Approximately four percent of pregnant women develop gestational diabetes while pregnant. It usually begins in the second trimester and often goes away (90 percent of the time) after the baby is born.

It's important for woman who develop gestational diabetes to control their blood sugar levels. If the blood sugar gets too high, it can lead to problems for both the mother and the baby.

Gestational Diabetes Management at Penn

Penn’s comprehensive diabetes program is designed for women at risk for gestational diabetes, recently diagnosed with gestational diabetes, and women with diabetes before pregnancy. To obtain the best outcome for mother and baby, the program includes:

  • Consultation with specialists in the care of women with diabetes during pregnancy
  • Nutritional counseling
  • Monitoring glucose levels
  • Recommendations for treatment and lifestyle changes

Celeste Durnwald, MD, director of the Perinatal Diabetes Program at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, has developed guidelines for the management of diabetes during labor and delivery.

“Research has shown that women who develop gestational diabetes have a 30 to 50 percent chance of developing type 2 diabetes later in life,” says Dr. Durnwald. “That’s why it’s important for a woman who develops gestational diabetes to have access to a team of obstetricians, specialists in maternal fetal medicine and diabetes, and nutritionists who can help manage her care during pregnancy and after.”

“Our goal is to educate women about diabetes in pregnancy and make recommendations that will improve their health and the health of their baby,” says Dr. Durnwald.

Expanding Diabetes Management Locations

For women outside of Philadelphia, having access to Penn Medicine specialists for diabetes management during pregnancy is easier than ever. Dr. Durnwald is now offering the same services as in our Philadelphia locations at Chester County Hospital.

She emphasizes that women who come to the Penn Maternal Fetal Medicine practice at Chester County Hospital can feel confident they are getting the same level of service and access to care as women who visit the Perinatal Diabetes Program in Philadelphia.

“We have a great relationship with specialists here and throughout the Penn Medicine health system,” she adds. “Patients in the Chester County area don’t necessarily need to come into the city to receive the same quality of care.”

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