Gestational Diabetes

August 13, 2010

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Gestational Diabetes is a form of diabetes that develops only during pregnancy.

What is Gestational Diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition in which blood sugar levels in the body are not regulating correctly. The hormone insulin controls blood sugar, or glucose levels, in the body. Gestational diabetes occurs when a pregnant woman who didn’t previously have diabetes develops the condition while pregnant.

What are the Risk Factors for Gestational Diabetes?

The risk factors for gestational diabetes include:

  • Family history of diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Age older than 30
  • Previous complications during pregnancy
  • High blood pressure

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Gestational Diabetes?

Gestational diabetes generally does not cause any symptoms and is usually discovered through testing.

How is Gestational Diabetes Diagnosed?

Gestational Diabetes is diagnosed through screening tests. The 1 hour glucose challenge test is a routine screening which is done between weeks 26 and 28 of pregnancy.

When this screening is done, you will be asked to drink a glass of a sweet glucose solution containing 50 grams of glucose. One hour later you will have a blood sample drawn so that your blood glucose level can be checked.

If your test result is abnormal, you will be asked to return for a second test called an oral glucose tolerance test.

For the glucose tolerance test you will be asked to fast overnight. When you arrive at your health care provider for testing, you will be given a very strong glucose solution with 100 grams of glucose to drink.

Your blood will be drawn 4 times. The first time is before you drink the glucose solution, and then at 1, 2, and 3 hour intervals after you drink the glucose solution.

How is Gestational Diabetes Treated?

Gestational diabetes is treated by managing your blood sugar levels. This involves dietary changes, exercise and regular testing of your blood glucose level.

If you are unable to manage your condition through diet and exercise, you may be given an oral medication or insulin shots to control your blood sugar levels.

Gestational diabetes generally disappears shortly after the delivery of your baby.

Does Gestational Diabetes Pose any Risks to the Baby?

Gestational diabetes can be harmful to the baby if goes untreated. This is because women who have gestational diabetes tend to have babies with excessive birth weight.

Large babies are more at risk of being injured during childbirth than average sized babies. Large babies are also at risk of having hypoglycemia, respiratory distress, and being still born.

When you receive treatment for gestational diabetes, your baby will be at no greater risk than any other baby.

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