Learn more about Gestational Diabetes from the experts at Medcare
31 July 2018| Last updated on 31 March 2019
A woman is diagnosed with gestational diabetes when glucose intolerance continues beyond 24 to 28 weeks of gestation.
Gestational diabetes is a kind of a diabetes that occurs during pregnancy in women who may have never had it before and usually goes away after the baby is born.
- In pregnancy, the placenta (the blood source for the baby) produces hormones that help the baby grow and develop. Some of these hormones block the action of the mother’s insulin which is called insulin resistance.
- During pregnancy, to keep the blood glucose levels normal, mothers need to make 2 to 3 times the normal amount of insulin due to this insulin resistance. If the body is unable to produce the extra insulin or becomes more resistant, gestational diabetes develops.
- When the baby is born and the insulin requirements fall, glucose levels return to normal and diabetes usually disappears
- Typically, women with GDM exhibit no symptoms, but some women may demonstrate increased thirst, increased urination, fatigue, nausea and vomiting, bladder infection, yeast infections and blurred vision.
- Between 5% to 8% of pregnant women will develop gestational diabetes and this usually occurs around the 24th to 28th week of pregnancy.
High Risk Factors
- Older mothers, especially over the age of 30 years of age
- Women with a family history of type 2 diabetes
- Women who are overweight
- Women from certain ethnic backgrounds including: - South Asian - Vietnamese - Chinese - Middle Eastern - Polynesian/Melanesian - Indigenous Australians
- Women who have had gestational diabetes
- Women who have had large babies or obstetric complications
- Woman who have had polycystic ovary syndrome
What are the complications that may affect the baby?
Most women who have gestational diabetes give birth to healthy babies, especially when they keep their blood sugar under control.
Most common complications may affect the baby:
- Large size (macrosomia). Big babies are more likely to get hurt during delivery. These include shoulder injuries.
- Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
- Low blood calcium
- Low blood iron
- High levels of red blood cells and thickened blood
- High levels of bilirubin from the breakdown of red blood cells
- Birth defects. Most affect the heart, blood vessels, brain, and spinal cord
- Premature birth
- Enlarged heart
- Breathing problems
- Long-term problems. Babies born to mothers with diabetes are more likely to have diabetes and be obese later in life
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