MWRI Researcher Maisa Feghali Studies New Drugs, Treatment Strategies for Women with Diabetes
“For women with pre-existing diabetes, there isn’t any catch up time during pregnancy,” says Maisa Feghali, M.D., an investigator with Magee-Womens Research Institute and a physician with the Maternal Fetal Medicine Division at UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital. “You have to optimize your health prior to becoming pregnant.”
Caroline Zariwala, who has managed Type 1 diabetes for most of her life, took this guidance to heart prior to her pregnancy. “I made sure my blood sugar levels were as solid as possible, because I knew the struggles uncontrolled levels can cause,” she said.
Women with pre-existing diabetes, as opposed to gestational diabetes which develops during pregnancy, face a nearly 40 percent higher likelihood of developing preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a condition characterized by extremely high blood pressure during pregnancy, and left untreated can pose significant risk to both the mom and her baby. Other risks associated with diabetes include fetal overgrowth and birth trauma.
At MWRI, Dr. Feghali and her team work to identify new medications and innovative treatment strategies for their patients. Controlling diabetes is critical during the short window pregnancy provides, and having an educated care provider can be tremendously valuable.
Caroline’s diabetes was well-controlled throughout her pregnancy, and she gave birth to her daughter, Veronica Laina Zariwala, without complications. As a dietitian and certified diabetes educator, she knew the importance of being in the best health possible prior to pregnancy. “You can manage diabetes and have a healthy pregnancy – it just takes a little more work,” she said. “The work is worth it.”
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