The onset of diabetes during pregnancy, gestational diabetes, is identified by high blood sugars and glucose intolerance that is first recognized only after a woman has conceived. Gestational diabetes was previously believed to affect 3% to 5% of all pregnancies, but updates to the criteria used to diagnose the condition and better data collection put the number as high as 18%. The good news is in most cases after the baby is born, gestational diabetes resolves itself. Get to know the symptoms of gestational diabetes and what the risk factors are to developing the condition.
Why does gestational diabetes happen? During pregnancy, there are many hormonal changes that occur in the body. In particular, the placenta produces hormones that increase the amount of sugar in the blood stream. If the pancreas cannot keep up with this, the mom-to-be essentially becomes resistant to her own insulin. Screening for gestational diabetes is done at about 20 weeks into the pregnancy. Those with a family history of diabetes, obesity prior to the pregnancy, over the age of 25, and being from certain ethnic groups (African-American, Latino, Native America or Pacific Islander) are at greater risk of developing diabetes during pregnancy. If you have had gestational diabetes during a previous pregnancy, there is a bigger chance that you will have it again during subsequent pregnancies. Usually there are no recognizable symptoms of diabetes and if they do occur they are similar to normal pregnancy symptoms such as increased urination, thirst, and weight gain. Keeping a healthy diet and exercise plan and losing weight before pregnancy are simple steps you can take to reduce the chance of developing gestational diabetes.
How is gestational diabetes treated? Being diagnosed with diabetes while pregnant can be frightening, but it can be easily managed. The Dario Smart Meter is a great device to have if you are newly diagnosed with gestational diabetes. You can use your Dario to track blood sugar, carbs, and insulin injections if needed. Easily share your Dario logbook with your medical team and your loved ones. Having the tools to keep your blood glucose levels in the range normal for pregnant women can reduce the risks of gestational diabetes to mom and baby.
In most cases of gestational diabetes, a treatment plan includes limiting carb intake and exercise although insulin is needed in some cases. Keeping your blood sugar in range reduces the risk of complications for both mom and baby. Mothers are at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life and preeclampsia during pregnancy. Poorly controlled blood sugar can lead to high birth weight (and increased chance of C-section), early delivery, respiratory distress syndrome, hypoglycemia, and developing obesity and type diabetes.
Global diabetes organizations, such as the International Diabetes Federation, have noted that while gestational diabetes is on the rise, the medical community needs to invest more resources in this critical issue for the health of woman and children. If you are expecting a baby or planning your family, speak to your doctor about your risk of gestational diabetes and discuss ways to keep your blood sugars in range to have a happy and healthy pregnancy.