Gestational diabetes affects approximately 4% of pregnant women. Functionally the same as Type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is brought on when a woman’s body develops temporary insulin resistance for the duration of her pregnancy. Gestational diabetes is often first treated with dietary changes recommended by a woman’s doctor. Then, if monitoring reveals that diet alone is not resolving the problem, often insulin will be prescribed.
All pregnant women in high or moderate risk groups should be tested for GDM at the beginning of their pregnancy and again at 24-28 weeks, because some of the traditional warning signs of type 2 diabetes are very similar to many normal effects of pregnancy itself, such as frequent urination and changes in normal energy levels and eating habits. Undiagnosed gestational diabetes can have serious side effects for the health of the fetus if not properly controlled.
Risk factors for gestational diabetes include overweight women, women with a history of type 2 diabetes in their families, women who have had gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy, women over the age of 25, and certain ethnic groups (Hispanic, African American, Native American, Asian, or Pacific Islander). Additionally, up to 50% of women who develop GDM will eventually end up developing permanent Type 2 diabetes.
The primary health risk of gestational diabetes mellitus is that the baby, in response to the mother’s high blood glucose levels, will become dangerously overweight. This condition is called macrosomia. Extremely large babies can suffer nerve damage or broken collarbones during vaginal birth, and often a doctor will reccommend delivery by caesarian section to avoid such risks. Other potential risks include preeclampsia and other blood-pressure related problems in the mother.
Even if you are not in a risk group, if you begin noticing diabetic symptoms around the 24-28th week of pregnancy (frequent urination, excessive thirst, blurred vision, etc.), request a diabetes test from your obstetrician. As mentioned before, women in the risk groups mentioned above should be tested for gestational diabetes mellitus at the point in their pregnancy, regarless of the presence or absence of symptoms.
If properly treated, gestational diabetes will most often cause no major problems, and will generally spontaneously resolve after birth.
We have now added a permanent page to the site here : What is Gestational Diabetes?
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