Gestational diabetes is a temporary form of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy when the body stops producing or responding to insulin sufficiently. It affects pregnant women during the middle and later part of their pregnancy, usually from the fourth month onward.
“It is usually diagnosed through a blood test between 24–28 weeks of pregnancy. If it is managed well and within time, one can significantly reduce the risk of complications arising from the condition and also improve the chances of a normal delivery,” says Dr Anubha Singh, medical director, gynecologist and IVF expert, Shantah Fertility Centre, New Delhi.
What causes gestational diabetes?
During pregnancy, the body produces certain hormones which make it difficult it to use the insulin produced, thereby creating a state of insulin resistance.
Insulin is normally required by the body to use the glucose in the blood as a source of energy. If one develops insulin resistance, the body’s own insulin struggles to help it use the glucose leading to an increase in the glucose levels in the blood rise. This causes gestational diabetes.
Signs and symptoms include:
*Frequent bladder, vaginal, or skin infections
Who is at risk of developing gestational diabetes?
*Overweight or obese women.
*Gestational diabetes during a previous pregnancy.
*Having delivered a large baby in a previous pregnancy (4.5 kg or more).
*Family history of diabetes (parent, sibling).
How to manage gestational diabetes:
*Seek professional help, talk to your gynecologist about it.
*Understand gestational diabetes and its treatment options.
*See a dietitian for advice regarding healthy diet and regular exercise.
*Understand how to treat low and high blood sugars
Complications in gestational diabetes:
It is extremely important to control the blood sugar level during pregnancy to prevent complications to both mother and baby. Poor control of diabetes increases the risk of having a large baby — making normal delivery difficult. This can also lead to the baby developing malformations of spine, heart and other organs, along with low blood glucose. The complications can also result in a risk of the baby dying around time of birth and the risk of the baby developing diabetes later in life.
Diet control, especially less consumption of sugar, and frequent checking of blood sugar levels will be needed. It is also essential to get baby scans done frequently, and if the blood sugar level is not well-controlled, doctors may advise an early delivery. If this fails to control blood sugars, insulin injections are needed.