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9 Things You Must Know About Gestational Diabetes by Amanda Wehmeier

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Gestational diabetes is a temporary form of diabetes that some women experience during pregnancy.  Similar to Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes deals with the way the body processes and breaks down the sugars at a cellular level.  However, with gestational diabetes you do not have to take insulin most of the time, unlike the other forms of diabetes.  The high blood sugar associated with gestational diabetes can be controlled with proper nutrition and regular exercise.  For most women once the pregnancy has ended their blood sugar goes back to normal and they no longer have this form of diabetes.  However, previously having gestational diabetes can mean that you are susceptible to acquiring Type 2 diabetes later in life.

Signs of Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes is not a condition that has a lot of tell-tale signs.  If you experience any signs during pregnancy you will be thirsty and will have to use the restroom frequently.  Most women do not find out they have gestational diabetes until they go to see their doctor.  This is one of many reasons that it is extremely important to see your physician as soon as you become pregnant.

Tests

Part of the routine office visit is to test for gestational diabetes.  You will be at a lower risk based on your age and weight.  The younger you are the less likely you are to have gestational diabetes.  It is also important to be at a healthy body weight.  According to Mayo Clinic, the two most common tests are the initial glucose challenge test and a follow up tolerance test.   Your physician will see to it that you are completely these tests.  If you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes you will have to complete a fetal movement counting, non-stress test, and biophysical profile.  You will also have to regularly check your blood sugar levels.

How to control it?

Gestational diabetes can be controlled by carefully tracking your blood glucose level.  The other ways to control gestational diabetes are with a good nutritional diet and regular exercise.  Depending on the severity of the gestational diabetes your physician may appoint you an endocrinologist to help manage blood glucose levels.

How it affects the baby?

Gestational diabetes does not affect how the baby is formed, but how the baby develops can be altered.  The excess sugar found in the body of the mother can enter the placenta and be consumed by the baby.  Because of the large amount of glucose the baby is consuming, the baby’s pancreas has to work harder to produce insulin to account for the difference.  This can affect the baby in two ways; either the baby can have a high birth weight because of the extra sugar or the baby will be born producing more insulin than it needs causing the infant to have low blood sugar levels.

Is it hereditary?

Gestational diabetes is not hereditary but can be caused by some hereditary conditions.  Obesity, a family history of diabetes, and prediabetes are just a few conditions that will make you more susceptible to gestational diabetes.

Complications

There are some complications associated with gestational diabetes.   This includes a high birth weight caused by the excess glucose found in the baby’s system.  Gestational diabetes can also lead to a low blood glucose level in the baby after birth because the change of environment due to glucose levels.  There is also a chance that the baby may develop respiratory distress syndrome due to an early delivery caused by the woman’s high blood sugar levels.  These complications are not guaranteed to occur but are more likely due to the onset of gestational diabetes.

Is the baby more susceptible to diabetes?

Gestational diabetes of the mother does give the child more of a risk of developing Type 2 diabetes because of the glucose differences that occurred during development.

Is the mother more susceptible to diabetes?

The mother is more susceptible to Type2 diabetes after having gestational diabetes.  If the high blood sugar does not go back to normal levels then there is a high risk of the mother developing Type 2 diabetes.

How to prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes?

The onset of Type 2 diabetes can be prevented with proper nutrition and regular exercise.  Preventing obesity helps prevent a person from developing diabetes.

In conclusion, gestational diabetes is a common condition during pregnancy.  Continuing diabetes after pregnancy is completely controllable with proper nutrition and weight control.  With these abnormal blood glucose levels there are complications, but most are preventable or treatable.  The most important prevention is contacting your physician as soon as you are aware that you are pregnant so that you can get the proper education on your pregnancy.

References

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/gestational-diabetes/DS00316

http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/gestational/

 

 

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