Pregnant women who have never had diabetes before but who have high blood (sugar) levels during pregnancy are said to have gestational diabetes. According to a 2014 analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the prevalence of gestational diabetes is as high as 9.2%.
Women who are obese or who had gestational diabetes in their previous pregnancy or have a strong family history of diabetes are at high risk of gestational diabetes.
Untreated or poorly controlled gestational diabetes can be harmful to the fetus. When one has gestational diabetes, the pancreas works overtime to produce insulin, but the insulin is ineffective. Although insulin does not cross the placenta, glucose and other nutrients do. Hence extra blood glucose goes through the placenta giving the baby high blood glucose levels. This causes the baby’s pancreas to make extra insulin to get rid of the blood glucose. Since the baby gets more energy than it needs to grow and develop, the extra energy is stored as fat and thus baby puts on weight and this can increase the risk of early labor.
Babies with macrosomia (heavy weight) face health problems of their own, including damage to their shoulders during birth. Because of the extra insulin made by the baby’s pancreas, may cause low blood glucose levels at birth and are also put the newborn at higher risk for breathing problems. Babies with excess insulin become children who are at risk for obesity and after they grow up they are at risk of type 2 diabetes.
Gestational diabetes raises the risk of high blood pressure in others and are also at high risk of developing diabetes during future pregnancy and are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes when they get older. But this can be avoided with a healthy lifestyle which includes a healthy food diet and regular exercises. At times, insulin is required to control the blood sugars. Insulin use in pregnancy is perfectly safe for the baby. Regular exercise and daily blood sugar checks are mandatory in women with gestational diabetes. It is advisable to get blood sugars check about 8 weeks after delivery too.
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