All You Need To Know About Gestational Diabetes

During pregnancy, some women have the tendency to develop high blood sugar levels. This high sugar level leads to a condition medically known as gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) or gestational diabetes

Doctor L Sanjay, Internal Medicine Department, Apollo Spectra Hospital Kondapur Hyderabad

During pregnancy, some women have the tendency to develop high blood sugar levels. This high sugar level leads to a condition medically known as gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) or gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes is most commonly observed to develop between the 24th and 28th weeks of pregnancy.

Like all the other types of diabetes, gestational diabetes affects how the cells use the sugar stored (glucose). Gestational diabetes increases the blood sugar level, which can have an impact on the pregnancy and, subsequently, the health of the baby. There is no single known cause of r gestational diabetes,  but hormones are considered to play a significant role.

When pregnant, the female body tends to produce increased amounts of certain hormones,  such as insulin resistance hormones. These hormones affect the placenta and help in carrying the pregnancy to full term. Over time, when the amount of these hormones in the body increases they can make the body resistant to insulin, the hormone responsible for regulating blood sugar.

Insulin is responsible for transporting glucose from the bloodstream to the cells, where it is used for providing energy. During pregnancy, the body is naturally insulin resistant to a certain extent, this means there is more glucose available in the bloodstream that can be supplied to the fetus. When the body’s resistance towards insulin becomes too strong, the blood glucose levels tend to rise abnormally. This leads to gestational diabetes.

For most women with gestational diabetes, blood sugar generally returns to normal soon after delivery. But it also puts the mother at a higher risk of getting type 2 diabetes. 

Risk Factors

Normally, women with below-mentioned factors are considered a higher risk category for developing gestational diabetes.

  • Women who suffer from high blood pressure
  • Women who have a family history of diabetes
  • Those are overweight before conceiving
  • Those gain a higher than normal amount of weight during pregnancy
  • Have been diagnosed with glucocorticoids condition
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), Acanthosis nigricans, and other underlying conditions that result in insulin resistance.

Complications affecting the newborn

Gestational diabetes, if not vigilantly managed, can shoot up high blood sugar levels. High blood sugar levels are not only a concern for the expectant mother, but also pose a risk to the baby.

  • Increased birth weight – High blood sugar levels in expectant mothers can make the babies grow larger than normal. Babies with excessive birth weight are more likely to become wedged in the birth canal and lead to birth injuries. The need for a C-section delivery increases drastically.
  • Premature birth – Gestational diabetes increases the risk of early labor and delivery before the actual due date leading to the premature birth of the baby.
  • Respiratory difficulties – Early deliveries of mothers with gestational diabetes can lead to respiratory distress syndrome in the babies. It is a condition that makes breathing difficult.

Complications affecting the mother

  • Increased blood pressure and preeclampsia – Gestational diabetes increases the risk of high blood pressure along with preeclampsia. It is a serious complication of pregnancy that causes high blood pressure and other symptoms that can be a threat to the lives of both mother and baby.
  • Diabetes in the future – Gestational diabetes puts mothers at higher risk of type 2 diabetes in the future during advanced age.

Conclusion

There are no hard and fast rules to avoid this condition but choosing a healthy lifestyle can lower the risk factors.  Choose foods that are high in fiber and low in fat and calories. Focus on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Strive for variety to help you achieve your goals without compromising taste or nutrition and watch portion sizes along with keeping active. Exercising before and during pregnancy can help protect you from developing gestational diabetes

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