Babies have a four-fold risk of being born with birth defects if their mother has diabetes, researchers have claimed.

The study, carried out by researchers at Newcastle University, looked at data from more than 400,000 pregnancies from between 1996 and 2008. They found that the risk of birth defects went from 19 in every 1,000 births for women without diabetes to 72 in every 1,000 births with diabetes.

The lead researcher, Dr Ruth Bell, told the BBC that "many of the anomalies appear in the first four to six weeks".

She went on to say that proper management of diabetes could, however, ensure babies were born healthy. She said:

"The good news is that, with expert help before and during pregnancy, most women with diabetes will have a healthy baby.

"The risk of problems can be reduced by taking extra care to have the best possible glucose control before becoming pregnant."

The report was published in the journal Diabetologia.

Posted by Robert Mair on 6/2/2012