What is Gestational Diabetes

What is Gestational Diabetes

Diabetes and pregnancy

There is a form of diabetes that occurs only during pregnancy that is called "Gestational Diabetes". This form of diabetes is the same as the other forms in the fact that it affects the way your body uses insulin and processes blood glucose which leads to hyperglycemia, however it is the cause that is different. Hyperglycemia could have adverse affects to a mother and her unborn baby, so proper supervision by a qualified doctor is a must during pregnancy to insure the health and safety of both mother and child, should gestational diabetes occur. It is during the second trimester or later that gestational diabetes will most commonly develop, and has been seen in some women as early as their twentieth week. Most mothers that develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy end up delivering healthy babies and the good news concerning gestational diabetes is that it is not permanent, it will usually disappear soon after delivery of the child.

What Causes Gestational Diabetes?

Although the mothers body may be producing plenty of insulin, it is believed that insulin resistance is the main culprit during gestational diabetes. Hormones that are produced in the placenta needed for the development of the baby during pregnancy, can also have the effect of restricting the actions of insulin in the mothers body by making her cells more resistant to insulin. As the pregnancy progresses into the second and third trimesters, the placenta will grow larger and secrete more of these hormones, further restricting the actions of insulin. Without blood glucose being properly regulated and metabolized with the help of insulin, blood glucose levels will continue to rise within the mothers body increasing the risk of complications to her and her baby.

Risk Factors for developing gestational diabetes can include:

• As a woman ages, she has an increased risk of developing gestational diabetes, which is typically around 25 years and older.

• Ethnicity also plays a role in a woman's chances of having gestational diabetes. Women of African, Hispanic/Latino, Native American, or Asian descent have a greater risk of developing it during pregnancy.

• Being obese/overweight at the time of conception increases the chances of a woman developing gestational diabetes.

• If someone in your immediate family has type 2 diabetes your risk is increased.

• A woman who has developed gestational diabetes during previous pregnancies has an increased chance of developing it again in future pregnancies.

• And if a woman delivers a baby affected by "macrosomia", a condition that causes a baby to grow unusually large (9 pounds or more) her risk is also increased.