Hypoglycaemia during pregnancy in women with Type 1 diabetes

Diabet Med. 2012 May;29(5):558-66. doi: 10.1111/j.1464-5491.2012.03604.x.


Aims: To explore incidence, risk factors, possible pathophysiological factors and clinical management of hypoglycaemia during pregnancy in women with Type 1 diabetes.

Methods: Literature review.

Results: In women with Type 1 diabetes, severe hypoglycaemia occurs three to five times more frequently in early pregnancy than in the period prior to pregnancy, whereas in the third trimester the incidence of severe hypoglycaemia is lower than in the year preceding pregnancy. The frequency distribution of severe hypoglycaemia is much skewed, as 10% of the pregnant women account for 60% of all recorded events. Risk factors for severe hypoglycaemia during pregnancy include a history with severe hypoglycaemia in the year preceding pregnancy, impaired hypoglycaemia awareness, long duration of diabetes, low HbA(1c) in early pregnancy, fluctuating plasma glucose values (≤ 3.9 mmol/l or ≥ 10.0 mmol/l) and excessive use of supplementary insulin injections between meals. Pregnancy-induced nausea and vomiting seem not to be contributing factors.

Conclusions: Striving for near-normoglycaemia with focus on reduction of plasma glucose fluctuations during pregnancy should have high priority among clinicians with the persistent aim of improving pregnancy outcome among women with Type 1 diabetes. Pre-conception counselling, carbohydrate counting, use of insulin analogues, continuous subcutaneous insulin infusion (insulin pump) therapy and real-time continuous glucose monitoring with alarms for low glucose values might be relevant tools to obtain near-normoglycaemia without episodes of severe hypoglycaemia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism*
  • Blood Glucose Self-Monitoring
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / blood*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / drug therapy
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemia / chemically induced*
  • Hypoglycemia / epidemiology
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Insulin / analogs & derivatives
  • Insulin / blood
  • Insulin / therapeutic use*
  • Insulin Infusion Systems
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy in Diabetics / blood*
  • Pregnancy in Diabetics / drug therapy
  • Pregnancy in Diabetics / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors
  • United Kingdom


  • Biomarkers
  • Blood Glucose
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Insulin
  • hemoglobin A1c protein, human