There is another form of diabetes only present during pregnancy known as gestational diabetes. Like Types I and II, this third form of diabetes affects the manner in which your body’s cells manage blood sugar or glucose. This dysfunction in management can result in extremely high blood glucose readings. Gestational diabetes is usually temporary, and blood sugar levels typically return to normal after the baby is delivered. However, it is crucial that women affected by this illness seek proper medical care throughout pregnancy, to assure that no complications develop.
Gestational Diabetes: The Facts
Gestational diabetes has many similarities with the other forms of the disease. Glucose and insulin control are key in gestational diabetes, and must be thoroughly monitored to assure that both mother and baby remain healthy. This disorder primarily develops during the second trimester of pregnancy, and can even occur as early as week twenty.
Comprehending gestational diabetes is easier if you can understand how blood sugar levels and insulin relate to the operation of the body as a whole. Insulin is continuously produced by the pancreas, an organ that is situated behind the stomach. As glucose levels increase after a meal, the production of insulin is also increased. This excess insulin helps the body maintain a proper level of blood sugar and provides it’s cells with a source of energy. While you are pregnant, the placenta produces hormones to control the pregnancy and keep the baby healthy. These hormones can essentially make cells insulin resistant. The placenta continues to grow throughout your pregnancy, excreting even more of these hormones. This can make the insulin’s job even harder to perform. While the pancreas usually responds by producing extra insulin to defeat this resistence, in some instances, the gland cannot sustain the process. This results in glucose deficiency in the cells, but overproduction in the blood. This is the underlying cause of gestational diabetes.
Any pregnant woman can be at risk for this form of diabetes, but some women have a larger chance of developing it than others. Women that carry extra weight before pregnancy have a greater risk of developing gestational diabetes. Those of certain heritage, such as, Asian, American Indian, or Hispanic are also more likely to develop the disease. You are also prone to the illness if an immediate family member has Type II diabetes. And finally, women over the age of 25 have a higher risk of developing the disease. As screening for gestational diabetes has now become a normal part of pregnancy care, early detection has become easier. A blood test referred to as the “blood challenge test” is recommended by most physicians in the sixth or seventh months of pregnancy. If you have a higher risk of developing the disease, the test administration is advised earlier.
Complications of Gestational Diabetes
Uncontrolled glucose levels during pregnancy can lead to gestational diabetes complications for both mother and baby. Pregnant women affected by gestational diabetes are prone to develop a condition called preeclampsia. Preeclampsia usually develops after the 20th week of pregnancy, and is characterized by an increase in blood pressure and extra protein in the urine. If preeclampsia is untreated, the complications for the mother and baby can be extremely serious, even life-threatening. Poorly controlled blood sugar levels can also lead to complications for the baby. Low blood sugar, respiratory problems and jaundice are just a few conditions that may plague the infant.
To assure that mother and baby remains healthy during and after pregnancy, careful monitoring of glucose, diet, and lifestyle are essential. Keeping the body healthy and fit during pregnancy can assure a long life for both you and your new bundle of joy.