Glycaemic behaviour during breastfeeding in women with Type 1 diabetes

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Abstract

Aim

To describe glycaemia in both breastfeeding women and artificially feeding women with Type 1 diabetes, and the changes in glycaemia induced by suckling.

Methods

A blinded continuous glucose monitor was applied for up to 6 days in eight breastfeeding and eight artificially feeding women with Type 1 diabetes 2–4 months postpartum. Women recorded glucose levels, insulin dosages, oral intake and breastfeeding episodes. A standardized breakfast was consumed on 2 days. A third group (clinic controls) were identified from a historical database.

Results

Carbohydrate intake tended to be higher in breastfeeding than artificially feeding women (P = 0.09) despite similar insulin requirements. Compared with breastfeeding women, the high blood glucose index and standard deviation of glucose were higher in artificially feeding women (P = 0.02 and 0.06, respectively) and in the clinical control group (P = 0.02 and 0.05, respectively). The low blood glucose index and hypoglycaemia were similar. After suckling, the low blood glucose index increased compared with before (P < 0.01) and during (P < 0.01) suckling. Hypoglycaemia (blood glucose < 4.0 mmol/l) occurred within 3 h of suckling in 14% of suckling episodes, and was associated with time from last oral intake (P = 0.04) and last rapid-acting insulin (P = 0.03). After a standardized breakfast, the area under the glucose curve was positive. In breastfeeding women the area under the glucose curve was positive if suckling was avoided for 1 h after eating and negative if suckling occurred within 30 min of eating.

Conclusions

Breastfeeding women with Type 1 diabetes had similar hypoglycaemia but lower glucose variability than artificially feeding women. Suckling reduced maternal glucose levels but did not cause hypoglycaemia in most episodes.

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