GESTATIONAL DIABETES: CAUSES AND HOW TO MANAGE

Most gestational diabetes is first diagnosed during pregnancy and usually in the second trimester. Gestational diabetes starts when the body is unable to make and use all the insulin it needs for pregnancy. During pregnancy, the placenta makes hormones that can lead to a buildup of glucose in your blood. Usually, the pancreas can make enough insulin to handle that. And not doing so, your blood sugar levels will rise and can lead to gestational diabetes.

Gestational diabetes condition is no different from other types of diabetes, because, they all involve high blood sugar levels.

Although, gestational diabetes may look less serious when compared with other forms of diabetes. Often times, it can be regarded as a temporary condition. The diabetes goes away soon after delivery.

Basically, this type of diabetes is caused by a change in the way a woman’s body responds to the hormone insulin during her pregnancy. This change results in elevated levels of blood sugar, also known as blood glucose. Glucose is formed when the digestive system breaks down the food into sugar.

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During pregnancy, the placenta produces hormones that interfere with the action of insulin, a hormone that helps sugar (or glucose) get from the bloodstream into cells. This means that sugar in the mother’s bloodstream is less able to get into her own cells, leading to a rise in blood sugar. If blood sugar levels rise to an abnormally high level, this is considered gestational diabetes.

In addition, some women who may be overweight before conception may be at high risk of developing a gestational diabetes.

Women with gestational diabetesmay not show any sign at all. Even if they do, it is mild and not life-threatening. Usually, the symptoms are mostly related to abnormal blood sugar levels, and can include the following:

fatigue, excessive thirst and increased urination.

 

The risk factors for gestational diabetes include:

  • Being overweight or obese
  • Having gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy
  • Previously giving birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds
  • Having a family member with Type 2 diabetes

Tests for gestational diabetes are usually done around 24 to 28 weeks of pregnancy.

Women first undergo a glucose screening test, in which they drink a sugar solution, and their blood sugar level is tested one hour later. If a woman’s blood sugar level is higher than normal, they will need to undergo a second test, called a glucose tolerance test.

To prepare for the glucose tolerance test, the mother will need to fast for 8 to 14 hours before her doctor’s visit. Her blood is taken before the test, and again in 30- to 60-minute intervals over two to three hours after she drinks a high-glucose solution in order to measure how blood glucose and insulin level changes over time.

 

If a woman is diagnosed with gestational diabetes, glucose tolerance tests are usually conducted once more at around six to 12 weeks after the woman gives births, and then once every one to three years in order to identify any lingering glucose intolerance, according to the Mayo Clinic.

The first step in managing gestational diabetes is to have the patient visit a dietician to see if her diet can be modified to reduce blood sugar levels.

If a patient is not able to control her blood sugar levels with diet and exercise alone, women may need to take medications to lower blood sugar levels, and in some cases, daily injections of insulin are needed.

Even if gestational diabetes disappears after the baby is born, women with the condition have up to a 60 percent increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life. Therefore, they should be regularly screened for signs of diabetes during later check-ups and be sure to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle.

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