Gestational diabetes is a condition that affects a significant number of women during pregnancy.
Much like regular diabetes, it is also remarked by lack of blood sugar regulation, but unlike regular diabetes, it resolves after the delivery.
It occurs because the placenta, the tube that feeds the baby, blocks insulin, that then leads to lack of regulation of blood sugar. Consequently, sugar remains in the blood, causing damage in its wake.
To diagnose a case of diabetes, your gynecologist & obstetrician will recommend tests during 24 to 28th week of pregnancy. If the blood sugar levels come out to be elevated, and you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, you will then be required to make changes to your lifestyle and diet to moderate your sugar levels. Some women might also have to take medicine as well.
Symptoms of gestational diabetes
While there might not be any discernible symptoms of gestational diabetes in some women, others with rather elevated sugar levels might experience signs of diabetes like frequent urination, increased thirst, fatigue, and lethargy.
Risk factors for gestational diabetes
Some women are at a higher risk for gestation diabetes. The risk factors include:
Abdominal fat: Often, abdominal fat is considered problematic in men, but pregnant women also need to be careful about it. Having greater abdominal fat puts women at risk of gestational diabetes.
Age: Women who are older are more likely to develop this issue.
Bed rest: Some women might be put on bed rest due to various factors. The inactivity and resultant weight gain increase the chances of developing gestational diabetes.
History: Having a family history of diabetes, or if you have had gestational diabetes in previous pregnancy, then you are at a greater risk of having gestational diabetes.
Overweight: Being obese or overweight also puts one at risk of gestational diabetes, as the weight has impact on the insulin levels.
Multiple births: If you are pregnant with more than one baby, you are more likely to get gestational diabetes.
Prediabetic: Women who were prediabetic before conceiving, are also more likely to have gestational diabetes then.
Complications of gestational diabetes
Gestational diabetes should not be made light of. It affects not only the baby, but maternal comfort and health are also affected as a result. Some complications of gestational diabetes include:
High blood pressure: Hypertension is a dangerous condition, and especially during pregnancy. It can lead to preeclampsia, which puts the life of the mother and the baby in peril. Gestational diabetes causes these complications.
Higher birth weight: When mothers have gestational diabetes, the babies are more likely to have a higher birth weight. This complicates delivery, as naturally, the bigger the baby is, the higher is chance of injuries and issues to the mother are. Some might also then need to deliver the baby via a C-section.
Hypoglycemia: Gestational diabetes can cause babies to have severe hypoglycemia at birth. They might have seizures as result as well.
Preterm birth: Gestational diabetes increases the risk of preterm birth, either due to the complications otherwise or the size of the baby. This may then lead to breathing difficulties in the baby, as they are born early.
Risk of diabetes in mothers: Women who have gestational diabetes are more likely to develop type II diabetes, which although can be managed with lifestyle and dietary interventions but is still a serious chronic condition that has grave implications for the life of the woman.
Risk of diabetes in the baby: Babies are also at the risk of developing diabetes later in their life. Moreover, their risk of obesity also runs higher.
Stillbirth: If gestational diabetes is not managed, it can cause the baby to be stillborn, or die shortly after birth.Therefore, it is important that women consult their gynecologist in Islamabad before and during pregnancy, so that they can avoid unnecessary risks to their and their babies’ lives.