Gestational Diabetes

Diabetes, Endocrine Disorders, Featured Article, Reproductive Health, Women's Health
on January 26, 2012

Gestational diabetes is a common affliction for pregnant women, which typically appears during the second trimester. The primary cause of gestational diabetes is pregnancy hormones that decrease the efficacy of the insulin in your body, causing blood sugar levels to rise and, often, insulin levels to rise as well.

Gestational diabetes detection. During your regular prenatal visits, your doctor will check your blood sugar levels to ensure that you are not at risk for gestational diabetes. The issue occurs most often about 24 weeks into the pregnancy and is caused by the body’s temporary inability to use insulin to regulate blood sugar levels. In most cases, this issue will disappear shortly after giving birth if you did not have diabetes before conception.

Potential complications of gestational diabetes. A number of health issues for both the baby and mother are linked to gestational diabetes, including the overproduction of insulin. The American Diabetes Association explains, “Because of the extra insulin made by the baby's pancreas, newborns may have very low blood glucose levels at birth and are also at higher risk for breathing problems. Babies with excess insulin become children who are at risk for obesity and adults who are at risk for type 2 diabetes.” Mothers with gestational diabetes are also at risk for a number of complications related to high blood sugar and insulin resistance.

Reducing the risk of gestational diabetes. The primary known risk factor for gestational diabetes is being obese or overweight. This may be due to the fact that you’re already at greater risk for type 2 diabetes when you’re at a weight that is higher than recommended. Since you don’t want to lose weight while pregnant, strive for a healthy weight before pregnancy and maintain a healthy level of exercise before, during and after each pregnancy. A healthy diet that is low in excess sugars (especially refined sugars) may also help reduce the risk of gestational diabetes. High-fiber foods that are naturally low-calorie and low-fat are excellent choices, including at least the recommended daily amount of fresh fruits and vegetables.