Diabetes Basics

Gestational Diabetes: Let's Know More About It

Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that is found in pregnant women. It is also called Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM). Though there are no specific causes linked to gestational diabetes, the hormones of pregnancy decrease a pregnant woman's ability to receive insulin, the converter of food into energy. In other words, it is glucose intolerance of variable degree during pregnancy. As a result, pregnant women suffer from high blood sugar leading to gestational diabetes.

Gestational diabetes begins when your body is not able to make and use all the insulin that it needs for pregnancy. When that happens, you are said to lie within the radius of GDM. Though, any increase in hormone and weight is taken as a positive sign, the change might make it hard for a pregnant woman's body to keep up with its need for insulin.

Gestational diabetes starts to occur when glucose is not transferred to cells and is therefore not transformed in to energy. Glucose increases the sugar level in the blood. High blood sugar means complications for the pregnant woman and her unborn baby.

Though, gestational diabetes can affect every pregnant women, certain racial and ethnic groups are more prone to it. Gestational diabetes affects about 3 to 4 % of all pregnant women. The risk of acquiring gestational diabetes is highest among the following cases:

1) Presence of any family history of diabetes.
2) Gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy.
3) Maternal age (a woman's risk factor increases with age
4) Acanthosis nigricans (a skin disorder characterized by the appearance of darkened patches of skin)
5) Obesity in a woman with Body Mass Index (BMI) greater than 29.
6) Previous stillbirth or spontaneous miscarriage.
7) A history of pregnancy induced high blood pressure, urinary tract infections, hydramnios (extra amniotic fluid).
8) Ethnic background of women, especially of Hispanic, African-American, South Asian, Asian or African descent.

Gestational diabetes should be treated instantly after diagnosis. Otherwise, your baby is more likely to have problems at the time of birth. Babies born to mothers with gestational diabetes carry the risk of the following illnesses:

1) Macrosomia (large, fat baby)
2) Shoulder Dystocia (birth trauma)
3) Neonatal Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar in the newborn)
4) Prolonged newborn jaundice
5) Low blood calcium
6) Respiratory distress syndrome

Though gestational diabetes gets automatically cured after the baby's birth, it makes you prone to GDM in your next pregnancy and later in life. So, it is important to take help of different medications and therapies to tackle it. If you take care of certain things, you may not get diabetes at all when you grow old.