Gestational Diabetes – What You Need to Know
Gestational diabetes is often a temporary condition that affects about 135,000 women each year – that’s 4% of all women that get pregnant. Gestational diabetes is a situation that occurs in which women have a high blood glucose level during the later stages of pregnancy, even when they have never had Diabetes before. Usually, the diabetes goes away after the pregnancy, but it may return later in life.
Researchers are not entirely sure what causes gestational diabetes. However, many believe that the hormones that are in place to protect the growing baby could inhibit the effectiveness of insulin in the body. In such cases, the mother may require up to three times as much insulin as she needed before becoming pregnant to process the same foods. Without the proper amount of insulin, women with gestational diabetes run the risk of getting hyperglycemia, a condition in which she has too much glucose in her blood.
Affects on the Baby
Because gestational diabetes occurs later in pregnancy, it does not usually cause birth defects. However, if a mother has Diabetes before the pregnancy, her baby has an increased chance of having a birth defect.
Many babies of mothers that have gestational diabetes are born with macrosomia, or are fat babies. This is because the mother’s pancreas is working overtime to produce the increased levels of insulin in the body. The baby, in turn is getting extra levels of blood glucose, which are stored as fat. In order to process the extra sugar, the baby will produce more insulin. As a result, many babies are born with low blood glucose levels, which often result in breathing problems.
Also, children born to mothers with gestational diabetes are at an increased risk of becoming obese and are also at risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes.
How to Treat It
Mothers that develop gestational diabetes should seek treatment immediately. This treatment involves lowering your blood glucose levels by eating special low-glucose meals and staying active. Many mothers also have to test their blood glucose daily and receive insulin injections. Mothers may also need to be prepared to have a cesarean section, as the baby could be large.
Talk with your doctor if you have developed, or think you have developed, Gestational Diabetes. Immediate treatment can help to prevent long-term negative effects.