Gestational Diabetes

Learning More About Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes is characterized as a temporary condition of pregnant women whose blood glucose level is higher than normal. In the United States, two to four percent of pregnant women are diagnosed with this medical condition. There are an estimated 135,000 cases of gestational diabetes in this country annually. Women who have a history of diabetes in the family are at risk of developing this. The same is also the case for mothers who have had birth defects during previous pregnancies or previous stillbirth or spontaneous miscarriage. Moreover, this type of diabetes commonly afflicts women who are Hispanic and African-American.

Usually, a diagnosis of gestational diabetes takes place during the late stage of pregnancy, particularly during the 24th to the 28th week. At this stage, the body of the baby already has a form and is still continually developing. According to theories, gestational diabetes develop when insulin resistance takes place during the pregnancy. The placenta that supports the baby throughout the term releases hormones to help in the development of the baby. However, these hormones may restrict the action of insulin in the body of the mother. Due to this insulin resistance, the mother may require thrice more insulin than she ordinarily needs.

If left untreated, gestational diabetes may have bad effects not only on the mother but also on the baby. Among the risks for babies are macrosomia which mean large, fat baby, shoulder dystocia or birth trauma, neonatal hypoglycemia which means low blood glucose level for the baby, newborn jaundice, low blood calcium, respiratory distress syndrome, stillbirth or death during infancy. Moreover, there is a large possibility that the child will experience childhood and adult obesity and an increased chance that the baby will develop type 2 diabetes later in life.

Diagnosed with gestational diabetes

Treatment for gestational diabetes must be commenced as early and as quickly as possible in order for it not to cause detrimental effects both on the mother and the child. The aim for treatment is to keep the blood glucose level equal to the blood glucose level of mothers not diagnosed with gestational diabetes. Special meal plans and scheduled exercises are usually recommended for treatment. Moreover, daily blood glucose testing and insulin injections may be administered depending on the severity of the medical condition.

Medical condition during gestational diabetes

Usually, gestational diabetes goes away during the end of the pregnancy. However, there is an increased chance that the mother will have the same medical condition during her next pregnancies. Furthermore, studies have shown that women who have had gestational diabetes usually develop type 2 diabetes some years following the pregnancy. In order to prevent this from happening, some changes would have to be done on the lifestyle of the mother. First, the woman should not weigh twenty percent more than her ideal body weight. Second, she must make a conscious effort to include healthy food in her diet. Fresh fruits and vegetables should be staples in her meals and she must take them in portion sizes. Lastly, the woman should engage in more physical activities so the body would be able to use glucose without requiring additional insulin. It is however, important to consult a physician first before starting an exercise program.