Gestational diabetes is a serious condition that affects both mom and baby.
Diabetes is a disease in which a patient has high blood sugar levels because their body does not produce enough insulin, their body does not respond properly to insulin, or both. Insulin is the hormone that the body uses to convert sugars, starches and other foods into the energy we need to live.
Pregnant women who did not have diabetes pre- pregnancy yet have elevated blood sugar levels during pregnancy are said to have gestational diabetes. Statistics estimate that as many as 18% of pregnancies are affected by gestational diabetes. If left untreated, both mother and baby can experience complications.
Gestational Diabetes Risk Factors
Some pregnant women have a higher risk of developing gestational diabetes than others. Your risk may be increased if you:
- Are 25 or older during your pregnancy
- Have a family history of diabetes
- Have high blood pressure
- Were overweight before your pregnancy
- Have had an unexplained miscarriage or stillbirth
- Have given birth to a baby that weighed over 9 pounds or had a birth defect
Pregnant women are usually screened for gestational diabetes between the 24th and 28th week of pregnancy by taking an oral glucose tolerance test. Women who have the risk factors mentioned above may be screened sooner.
Gestational Diabetes Symptoms
Many women do not experience symptoms and do not know the condition is present until taking the glucose tolerance test, but symptoms may include:
- Blurred vision
- Frequent infections
- Increased thirst and urination
- Nausea and vomiting
- Weight loss
Treating Gestational Diabetes
To keep blood sugar levels stable during pregnancy, your doctor or a dietician will recommend a healthy eating plan that ensures you are getting the right nutrients yet limits sugars. Gestational diabetes may require medication and additional monitoring to ensure both you and your child's safety.
Learn more about gestational diabetes in Brandon Hospital’s Gestational Diabetes Classes. We also offer a variety of educational opportunities for women and their families, such as our Prepared Childbirth Classes. For quick health questions or for a physician referral, please call our free Consult-A-Nurse service at 1-888-327-2636.