Hyperglycemia caused by gestational diabetes, if left untreated or uncontrolled can cause complications for both mother and child, but it will rarely end up resulting in the death of the child. Some of the complications can include:
• Increased risk of developing Gestational Diabetes again - Once a mother has developed gestational diabetes during one pregnancy, chances of having it again during subsequent pregnancies are more likely.
• Increased risk of Type 2 Diabetes - The chances are also increased of her developing type 2 diabetes as she grows older.
• Increased risk of preeclampsia - Should she develop Gestational Diabetes during her pregnancy, the mother has an increased risk of preeclampsia, which if left untreated is a potentially fatal disorder for both mother and her unborn child. Preeclampsia is characterized by high blood pressure and an excess of protein in the urine which occurs after the twentieth week of pregnancy.
• Premature birth - Women with Gestational Diabetes have an increased risk of entering premature/early labor.
• Increased likelihood of C-section birth - Because a baby born to a mother with gestational diabetes can be quite large, there is an increased chance that the child will need to be delivered by Caesarian section.
• Increased risk of developing high blood pressure.
• Increased birth weight - A condition known as "Macrosomia" in which a baby grows very large in the womb, can occur during pregnancy in mothers experiencing Gestational Diabetes. This happens when extra glucose is transferred from the mother to the child through the placenta, causing the baby's pancreas to produce more insulin than is needed and can cause extra growth. Babies that are larger than normal can become wedged in the birth canal, sustain injury during delivery or need to be delivered by caesarian section.
• Low blood sugar at birth - A baby born to a mother with gestational diabetes can also suffer from hypoglycemia not long after delivery as a result of high insulin production in the child's body. It is essential to insure that a newborn child suffering from hypoglycemia receive treatment to raise their blood glucose levels either through being fed or in some cases being given a blood glucose solution intravenously.
• Breathing complications at birth - In the cases where a child is delivered early, there is an increased risk that they will have difficulty breathing shortly after birth and will require the aid of a respirator until their lungs are strong enough for them to breath on their own.(also known as Respiratory distress syndrome)
• Having Jaundice at birth - If a child is born to a mother with gestational diabetes, the baby has an increased risk of "Jaundice" which is characterized by a yellowish discoloration to the skin and whites of the eyes. A substance called bilirubin is formed when the body recycles red blood cells that are either old or damaged and is normally broken down in the liver, but should a child's liver not have developed fully by the time of birth, jaundice can occur. The child should be carefully monitored, but jaundice is not normally a cause for concern.
• Higher risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes - If a mother develops gestational diabetes during her pregnancy, her baby will have a higher risk of becoming obese and developing type 2 diabetes later on in life.
Most women will not have any noticeable symptoms or signs that they have gestational diabetes, which makes it even more important to see a doctor during pregnancy. However on rare occasions some women may experience excessive thirst and increased urination.
Seeing your doctor during pregnancy is very important to both you and your child, under a doctors care and guidance, should you develop Gestational Diabetes an effective treatment plan can be administered. Fortunately a well balanced program of exercise and nutrition may be all that is needed to effectively manage gestational diabetes, but in some cases medication may be required.