From Bellevue, Washington, USA:
My 15 year old daughter has type 1 diabetes. In studying my family history, I have found that several young women (ages 18-23 years) developed type 1 diabetes within a year of giving birth. Does pregnancy speed up the autoimmune process?
In the early months of normal pregnancy there is an increase in carbohydrate induced insulin secretion and later on there is a measure of insulin resistance which is presumed to be a means of sparing carbohydrate as a fuel for the rapidly growing fetus. See Fuel metabolism during pregnancy (in Semin Reprod Endocrinol, 1999;17(2):119-25; Homko CJ, Sivan E, Reece EA, Boden G.)
If the insulin producing cells in the pancreas are already compromised by several years of exposure to autoimmune damage, it is easy to understand how this additional stress of pregnancy would hasten the onset of clinical diabetes. In other words you are quite right, and pregnancy would speed up the autoimmune process. At the same time, in most cases, type 1A (autoimmune diabetes has developed clinically by the age of 18, and it is possible that these young women had what is now called Late-onset Autoimmune Diabetes of Adulthood (LADA) in which the impact of pregnancy may be different.
Original posting 22 Feb 2001
Posted to Family Planning
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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:09:18
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