Gestational diabetes is the temporary form of diabetes occurs during pregnancy when the body stops producing or responding to insulin sufficiently. It usually affects pregnant women usually during mid to later part of the pregnancy, from the fourth month of pregnancy onwards.
It is usually diagnosed through a blood test between 24 – 28 weeks of pregnancy. With good management of Gestational Diabetes, one can significantly reduce the risk of complications to both mother and baby and also improve the chances of a normal delivery.
What causes Gestational Diabetes?
During pregnancy, the body produces certain hormones which make it difficult for your body to use the insulin produced thereby creating a state of Insulin Resistance.
Insulin is normally required for the body to use glucose in the blood as an energy source. With insulin resistance, one’s own insulin struggles to help the body use glucose for energy and hence glucose levels in the blood rise leading to Gestational Diabetes.
Signs and symptoms include:
- blurred vision
- extreme thirst
- frequent bladder, vaginal, or skin infections
- frequent urination
Who is at risk of developing Gestational Diabetes?
- Overweight or Obese women
- Gestational Diabetes in 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 gynaecologist about it
- Understand Gestational diabetes and its treatment options
- See a dietitician 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 sugars 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, baby can develop malformations of spine, heart and other organs, baby can develop low blood glucose, risk of baby dying around time of birth and risk of baby developing Diabetes later in life.
What is the treatment?
Diet control and especially less consumption of sugar, frequent checking of blood sugars will be needed, frequent baby scans will be needed and if blood sugars are not well-controlled delivery of the baby may have to bring forward. if this fails to control blood sugars, Insulin injections will be needed.
By Dr. Anubha Singh, Medical Director , Gynaecologist and IVF Expert, Shantah Fertility Centre , New Delhi