Here are some facts to know about gestational diabetes:
Diagnosis: Roughly nine percent of women are diagnosed with gestational diabetes during the third trimester of pregnancy. This form of diabetes shares characteristics of both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, but in many ways it is its own unique condition.
Why it develops: During pregnancy, the placenta produces a combination of hormones which can actually suppress the effectiveness of the body’s natural insulin, leading to elevated glucose levels. This process accelerates as the baby develops in utero. Technically, women who have gestational diabete are not diabetic before becoming pregnant; however, they may be at increased risk for diabetes throughout the rest of their lives.
How it’s treated: Gestational diabetes is often treated with blood sugar testing, a low-carb diet and weight control. If necessary, oral medication may be prescribed to avoid excessive glucose accumulating in the mother’s blood system, which can be harmful to both mother and baby. Insulin injections have long been an option in controlling gestational diabetes, as well. In most cases, blood sugar levels return to normal after birth.
Complications: In the worst cases, gestational diabetes can set off high blood pressure and preeclampsia. This is a dangerous condition that causes extreme sudden onset hypertension that can be fatal to the mother and require emergency C-section birth to save the baby. With gestational diabetes, there is also the risk of a condition known as placental insufficiency, where blood flow to the baby is compromised.
More Information: The Mayo Clinic and the American Diabetes Association offer helpful information on pregnancy and diabetes. To learn more, go to Mayo Clinic GDM Screen and http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/gestational/.
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