What is Gestational Diabetes?

What is Gestational Diabetes?
Gestational Diabetes is a diabetic condition that usually occurs during the third trimester of pregnancy. Diabetes is a condition where the body can no longer utilize the insulin it produces. Insulin, which is made in the pancreas, is used to break down carbohydrates, protein and complex carbohydrates, which is then converts glucose into glycogen. Glucose or insulin is the basic fuel which our body runs on. However, without insulin, blood sugar levels become too high and the body can’t function well. The diabetes generally disappears after birth and the body returns to normal. During most high risk pregnancies your doctor may suggest such a test. This is done to prevent further complications with your pregnancy. Also, about 14% of pregnant women can get gestational diabetes even if they are not in a high risk group. Studies are not exactly clear on what triggers gestational diabetes.

Your chances of getting gestational diabetes will depend if you fall into certain risk groups, they are weight gain, family history of diabetes, smoking, being an African-American, Hispanic or other ethnic group, gaining weight before pregnancy or over 40. Generally if you are under 25, don’t have a family history of diabetes or belong to any ethnic group your doctor won’t test you. However, a German study suggested all pregnant women get tested. Further studies indicated if you develop gestatational diabetes and take a progestin birth control during nursing you have a higher chance of getting type 2 diabetes later.

The main symptoms of gestational diabetes are high thirst, frequent urination and increased hunger, however generally there are no symptoms. It is important to get tested during your 24th to 28th week. During pregnancy urine is constantly tested, but the glucose tolerance test is the only way to confirm gestational diabetes. The glucose tolerance test consists of an initial blood glucose reading. Then a special glucose mixture is drunk, in which over a period of eight hours blood glucose is tested. If the blood glucose is 200 then diabetes is detected.

Control of blood glucose is very important during gestational diabetes. Complications are high blood pressure and preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is progressively high blood pressure and protein in urine. Symptoms of preeclampsia are swelling, sudden weight gain, headaches and changes in vision. However, there aren’t always symptoms. Major complications that affect the fetus are birth defects, excessive growth of the fetus, delayed lung development and a chance of diabetes later on in the child.

Once gestational diabetes is diagnosed it can be managed easily. With diet and carefully monitored exercise BG’s can be managed. If blood glucose can’t be controlled then insulin will be administered to control the diabetes. Oral medications are not indicated for gestational diabetes. Also, gestational diabetics had a higher incidence of caesarean section.

You Should Also Read:
University of Maryland Medical Center
Joslin Diabetes Center
American Diabetes Association

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