All you need to know about Gestational Diabetes

crop5_240x240_23jan15What is Gestational Diabetes?
Pregnant women who have never had diabetes before but who have high blood glucose (sugar) levels during pregnancy are said to have gestational diabetes. Almost all women have some degree of impaired glucose intolerance as a result of hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy. That means that their blood sugar may be higher than normal, but not high enough to have diabetes. During the later part of pregnancy (the third trimester), these hormonal changes place pregnant woman at risk for gestational diabetes.

According to a 2014 analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the prevalence of gestational diabetes is as high as 9.2%.

During pregnancy, increased levels of certain hormones made in the placenta (the organ that connects the baby by the umbilical cord to the uterus) help shift nutrients from the mother to the developing fetus. Other hormones are produced by the placenta to help prevent the mother from developing low blood sugar. They work by resisting the actions of insulin.

Over the course of the pregnancy, these hormones lead to progressive impaired glucose intolerance (higher blood sugar levels). To try to decrease blood sugar levels, the body makes more insulin to get glucose into cells to be used for energy.

Usually, the mother’s pancreas is able to produce more insulin (about three times the normal amount) to overcome the effect of the pregnancy hormones on blood sugar levels. If, however, the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin, blood sugar levels will rise, resulting in gestational diabetes.

Myths and Facts about Gestational Diabetes
Myth:Gestational diabetes is a condition which remains even after the delivery.
Fact: Gestational diabetes ends up with the end of pregnancy. However, in some cases, if proper care is not taken, it may lead to type-2 diabetes later on.

Myth: The baby will also be affected if the pregnant woman is diagnosed with gestational diabetes.
Fact:Children may or may not get affected if their mothers have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes mellitus. However, even if they are found to be affected, the complications can be easily avoided by eating a balanced diet, good exercises and, if required, insulin shots. Following these measures, the child can live a healthy life.

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Dr. Rajiv Kovil
Consultant Diabetologist, Dr. Kovil’s Diabetes Care Centre

Dr. Rajiv Kovil is a Consultant Diabetologist at Dr. Kovil’s Diabetes Care Centre, the first Preventive Diabetes Centre & Diabetic Foot Clinic in Mumbai, KLS Memorial Hospital and Holy Spirit Hospital among others. He is a founder member of United Diabetes Forum, a forum of practising diabetologists in India. He has also written various articles on diabetes for medical journals such as Asian Journal of Diabetology and Medical Image. His Preventive Diabetes Centre & Diabetic Foot Clinic is an initiative to provide preventive diabetic measures as well as to function as a specialized Foot Clinic for diabetic patients not only in terms of equipment but more importantly in terms of expertise.

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