How do women’s knowledge and beliefs about diabetes in pregnancy differ by diabetes types?

An ACBRD study has identified that women with type 1 and type 2 diabetes differ in their views about contraception and preparing for pregnancy

By Sienna Russell-Green

For women with diabetes, pregnancy comes with added challenges. Factors like high blood glucose can increase risks to both the mother and unborn baby. Pre-pregnancy care has been proven to reduce these risks. Yet, there is low uptake of pre-pregnancy care. This may be related to women’s knowledge and beliefs about preparing for pregnancy.

The aim of this study was to examine:

      1. beliefs and knowledge about pregnancy in women with diabetes, and
      2. whether these differ by type of diabetes

Dr Hendrieckx and colleagues used data from the Australian NDSS* ‘Contraception, Pregnancy & Women’s Health’ survey. Women could take part if they had pre-existing diabetes and were pregnant or planning pregnancy. In this study, 526 women had type 1 diabetes, and 103 had type 2 diabetes.

The survey had 22 questions about beliefs on diabetes and pregnancy.

Compared to women with type 2 diabetes, women with type 1 diabetes:

      • held stronger beliefs about the benefits of pre-pregnancy care, and
      • had greater confidence in attending pre-pregnancy care

The survey also had 13 ‘true or false’ knowledge questions.

Overall, the number of incorrect responses was low. But gaps in knowledge were identified. For example, one third to one half of women did not realise that women with diabetes need a higher dose of folic acid/folate than women without diabetes.

Women with type 1 diabetes had more knowledge than women with type 2 diabetes. Women with type 2 diabetes were less aware of contraceptive choices, and risks of high blood glucose before or early in pregnancy.  

There is a clear difference in beliefs and knowledge between women with type 1 diabetes and women with type 2 diabetes. It is important to develop targeted messaging and strategies to fix these gaps, and to improve women’s understanding for future pregnancies.

If you enjoyed reading this, check out our other blogs on pregnancy and diabetes here.

*This study was funded by the National Diabetes Services Scheme. The NDSS is an Australian Government Initiative administered by Diabetes Australia.

Hendrieckx C, Morrison M, Audehm R, Barry A, Farrell K, Houvardas E, Nankervis A, Porter C, Scibilia R, and Ross G. Women with type 1 diabetes and women with type 2 diabetes differ in knowledge and beliefs about contraception and pregnancy. Diabetic Medicine, 2021;38: e14521. https://doi.org/10.1111/dme.14521