What is Gestational Diabetes?

According to the American Diabetes Association, ADA, “Pregnant women who have never had diabetes before but who have high blood glucose (sugar) levels during pregnancy are said to have gestational diabetes” (ADA, 2016). Possibly up 9.2% of pregnant women have gestational diabetes.

There currently is not a known cause for the disease. However, many doctors are starting to see some evidence of possible causes. For example, the placenta gives nutrition to the growing baby. However, the hormones caused from the placenta can also prevent insulin inside of the mother’s body. This process is called insulin resistance. During pregnancy, it is natural for the body to resist insulin in order to provide more glucose for the baby. According the ADA, a mother could need up to three times as much insulin to process glucose in their body (ADA, 2016).

Gestational diabetes begins due to the inability to produce or use all of the insulin to support the pregnancy. Glucose will then build up inside of the blood since it is not being transformed into energy. This causes hyperglycemia.

Normally, if one’s blood sugar is too high, the pancreas will create more insulin to convert it into energy. However, the pancreas sometimes cannot keep up with the amount of insulin needed. This is what causes gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes needs to be treated immediately because it can affect the health of the mother and the baby.

A lot of the risk factors can go unnoticed. You are at an increased risk for having gestational diabetes if you are over the age of 25, have close relatives with diabetes, are overweight or obese, have PCOS, medical conditions that raise your risk for diabetes, taking certain medications, have a history with gestational diabetes, have had a big baby before, or you descend from certain minority groups (Baby Center, 2016).

Currently, there is not a way to guarantee that a woman will not have gestational diabetes. However, there are always several ways to lower one’s chance of diabetes. Eating a healthier diet is always a great way to lower the risk. This will also be beneficial for the baby. Exercising regularly is great as well. Walking is a great exercise that will not be too strenuous on the baby.

The baby is at risk for developing low blood sugar levels, better known as hypoglycemia immediately after birth (Stöppler, 2016). Most women should be tested for gestational diabetes during their pregnancy. The most common time is in between the 24th and 28th week of pregnancy.

Gestational diabetes affects the mother and child. The mother has a greater chance of needing a C-section, normally due to the larger size of the infant. According to Stöppler, gestational diabetes can “increase the risk of preeclampsia, a maternal condition characterized by high blood pressure and protein in urine” (Stöppler, 2016). Mothers also are at a higher risk of getting type 2 diabetes after pregnancy.

If there are high glucose levels inside of your blood stream during pregnancy, the infant might be larger than normal. The baby is also more at risk for having hypoglycemia. The baby can also have a few more complications. However, people who receive proper care tend to deliver healthy babies.

 

Bibliography

American Diabetes Association. (2016). What is gestational diabetes?. Web. American Diabetes Association. Retrieved from http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/gestational/what-is-gestational-diabetes.html?referrer=https://www.google.com/

Baby Center (2016). Gestational diabetes. Web. Baby Center, LLC. Retrieved from http://www.babycenter.com/0_gestational-diabetes_2058.bc

Stöppler, M.C. (2016). Gestational diabetes. Web. MedicineNet. Retrieved from http://www.medicinenet.com/gestational_diabetes/article.htm