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What is Gestational Diabetes?

Mar 27, 2008
Gestational diabetes is when a pregnant woman who has never had diabetes develops diabetes in the twenty-fourth to twenty-eighth week of pregnancy. There are reportedly 135,000 cases of gestational diabetes every year in the United States. While it is a serious condition, women diagnosed with gestational diabetes can and do deliver healthy babies. With the proper medical care, a healthy diet, and controlled weight gain the risks of this type of diabetes are minimized.

Between the twenty-fourth and twenty-eighth weeks of pregnancy, a health care provider will order testing to rule out gestational diabetes. There are two testing methods that can be used. Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (One Step): involves fasting for four to eight hours and measuring blood glucose levels. Then a sugar drink is consumed and the blood glucose is again measured after two hours. Two Step: involves drinking the high sugar drink first, then blood glucose is measured after one hour. A non-diabetic's level will be in the normal range within one hour. If the levels are high, the Oral Glucose Tolerance Test will then be performed.

It is not known for sure why gestational diabetes occurs. However, theories suggest that the developing baby produces hormones that block the mother's ability to create enough insulin to keep blood glucose levels normal. Due to the changes that her body is undergoing, she may need up to three times as much insulin as normal to eliminate the excess sugar in her blood stream. The excess of sugar in the blood can be directed to the fetus, through the placenta, causing a condition called Macrosomia or simply put, "fat baby".

Some other risks involved to both the mother and the baby are: A macrosomic infant may need to be delivered via caesarian section to avoid injury. The newborn may suffer from low blood sugar. The newborn may suffer jaundice. The infant's blood may have low mineral levels. The infant may have breathing distress upon delivery. The children are at higher risk of being obese. The risk of developing Type 2 diabetes is higher for both the child and the mother. The chances for a woman developing gestational diabetes with future pregnancy are increased.

In order to steer clear of risks to both mother and her fetus, gestational diabetes needs to be caught and dealt with promptly. A physician will recommend a nutritious diet and safe exercise plan. Moderating carbohydrate intake and exercise helps to control weight gain. An extreme weight increase leads to complications for the mother in addition to the instant and potential risks to the infant. If Insulin is required to manage blood glucose levels, the physician will explain how to take it. Keeping an eye on the blood glucose level is another way to steer clear of danger.

Generally, gestational diabetes disappears of its own accord. The mother's capability to produce her own insulin is no longer affected by hormones produced by the placenta. After about six weeks, it is recommended that the mother' blood glucose levels be tested again. This reduces the possibility that she was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, when in fact either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes was making itself known and coincided with pregnancy.

Women who have had gestational diabetes, and the children born under those conditions, can diminish the menace of developing Type 2 diabetes by making simple healthy changes in the foods they eat and how much they exercise. Eating healthy and exercise are necessary to lose weight especially with the fact that the leading cause in the development of Type 2 diabetes is obesity.
About the Author
Julia Hanf author of the book How To Play the Diabetes Diet Game and Win Through a real life crisis Julia figured out how to live diabetes free. Visit http://www.yourdiabetescure.com and learn more about your solution for diabetes.
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