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Gestational Diabetes - Symptoms, Treatments and Diagnoses

Published on Sep 05, 2019 and last reviewed on Oct 03, 2019   -  5 min read

Abstract

Abstract

Gestational diabetes is when the blood sugar level is high in a pregnant woman. Learn about its causes, symptoms, risk factors, and complications.

Gestational Diabetes - Symptoms, Treatments and Diagnoses
Contents

What Is Gestational Diabetes?

The type of diabetes that affects pregnant women is called gestational diabetes. It affects how the cells use glucose in the body. It also results in hypertension (high blood pressure), which can affect the health of the mother and her baby. Most pregnant women can control blood sugar by eating healthily, exercising, and taking medicines.

Here, blood sugar generally returns to normal after delivery, but it increases the risk of type 2 diabetes. So women who had gestational diabetes are advised to keep monitoring their blood glucose levels every three years after delivery. Gestational diabetes if left untreated, can cause complications for your baby during pregnancy or delivery. It affects women between the 24th and 28th week of pregnancy.

What Are the Symptoms of Gestational Diabetes?

Generally, pregnant women do not show any sign of gestational diabetes. It is diagnosed during routine prenatal screening. But when the sugar levels are too high, some women experience the following symptoms:

If you are pregnant and experience unusual symptoms, get immediate medical help. Your doctor will diagnose and treat your condition promptly.

What Causes Gestational Diabetes?

Normally, glucose is produced and released in the blood when the food gets digested. When the pancreas detects glucose in the blood, it produces insulin to move sugar from the blood to the cells. The cells use this glucose for energy.

But in pregnancy, the placenta produces high levels of human placental lactogen (hPL) and other hormones, which cause insulin resistance. These hormones impair the action of insulin and raise blood sugar levels. As these hormones are produced more as the baby grows, gestational diabetes usually develops during the second or third trimester.

What Are the Forms of Gestational Diabetes?

There are two forms:

  1. Class A1 - Gestational diabetes that can be controlled through diet.

  2. Class A2 - Gestational diabetes that needs insulin or oral medications.

What Are the Risk Factors for Gestational Diabetes?

The factors that increase the risk of gestational diabetes are:

What Are the Complications of Gestational Diabetes?

If the blood sugar level is too high, and if it is left uncontrolled, it can result in complications.

Baby’s complications

Mother’s complications

How Is Gestational Diabetes Diagnosed?

Screening for gestational diabetes is done between the 24th and 28th week, if you are not a known diabetic or if your blood sugar level was normal during early pregnancy tests. The tests done are:

  1. Fasting blood sugar level equal to or more than 95 to 105 mg/dL.

  2. One-hour blood sugar level equal to or more than 180 to 190 mg/dL.

  3. Two-hour blood sugar level equal to or more than 155 to 165 mg/dL.

  4. Three-hour blood sugar level equal to or more than 140 to 145 mg/dL.

Amongst these readings, even if two readings show high blood glucose, the diagnosis of gestational diabetes is made.

How to Treat Gestational Diabetes?

Keeping the blood sugar level under control is crucial for the mother’s and baby’s health. The treatment options include:

A healthy lifestyle can help prevent gestational diabetes to an extent. Be active and eat healthily to avoid complications. To know more about this condition, consult a diabetologist online.

 

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Frequently Asked Questions


1.

How to prevent gestational diabetes?

Even though it is not always possible to prevent gestational diabetes, you can try the following tips to reduce the risk.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Exercise regularly.
- Avoid refined carbohydrates and sweets.
- Consume more protein and fiber.

2.

How does gestational diabetes affect the baby?

Babies of women with gestational diabetes can grow too big in the womb, have difficulty breathing on birth (respiratory distress syndrome), might have low blood glucose, and can die suddenly during pregnancy or delivery. Such babies are at risk of developing obesity and type 2 diabetes.

3.

How common is gestational diabetes?

High blood sugar during pregnancy is detected in 3 to 5 % of all pregnancies. Meaning, 1 in every 20 pregnant women has gestational diabetes.

4.

How to manage gestational diabetes?

Gestational diabetes is typically managed with eating healthily and exercising. If still the blood sugar is not controlled, then antidiabetic medicines or Insulin shots are prescribed.

5.

Is gestational diabetes serious?

Yes, gestational diabetes is a serious condition. If left untreated, it can cause high blood pressure, urinary tract infections, and preeclampsia, which can be life-threatening for the mother and her baby.

6.

Does gestational diabetes cause early delivery?

Yes, high blood sugar levels can result in early labor and premature birth.

7.

Is gestational diabetes considered a high-risk pregnancy?

Yes, as gestational diabetes can affect the health of both mother and baby, it is considered a high-risk pregnancy.

8.

How can you control gestational diabetes naturally?

You can control blood glucose levels naturally by eating a healthy diet and exercising. Consume protein, fruits, vegetables, and fiber-rich food. Avoid processed, spicy, and oily food. Avoid sweets and refined carbohydrates.

Last reviewed at:
03 Oct 2019  -  5 min read

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Dr. Raveendran Sr

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