Friday, May 7, 2010

What You Need to Know About Gestational Diabetes: A Guide for Moms-to-Be

Most Americans know the risks and complications of diabetes and Type 2 diabetes, but gestational diabetes can be an alarming and confusing development for pregnant women. Gestational diabetes is a condition that sometimes occurs in healthy pregnant women who have never had diabetes before but who develop high blood sugar levels when pregnant. The American Diabetes Association estimates that about 135,000 women develop gestational diabetes each year in this country. Women may or may not continue to have diabetes after they give birth, but it is still a serious -- but treatable -- condition that you need to monitor along with your midwife. Here are some facts about gestational diabetes to help you understand the condition -- and how to keep you and your baby healthy -- a little better.
• Gestational diabetes does not cause birth defects: Doctors have found that overweight mothers who had diabetes before becoming pregnant may have increased risk for giving birth to babies with certain defects. Gestational diabetes occurs late in pregnancy, so the risk for birth defects is minimal.
• If left untreated, newborn injury can occur: If mothers do not treat their gestational diabetes, however, their babies may get too big and be injured during birth due to an overworked pancreas and a condition called macrosomia. Another risk is that newborns may have a sudden drop in blood sugar.
• Caused by increased hormone levels: Doctors believe that gestational diabetes is caused by increased levels of hormones like cortisol, estrogen and human placental lactogen. This increase leads to insulin resistance, which means that your pancreas is not able to keep up with the hormones and produce enough insulin to keep your blood sugar in check.
• Know the risk factors: While about half of women who develop gestational diabetes do not have any risk factors, you should be aware of them just in case. They are: becoming obese during pregnancy, having high blood pressure, have a family history of diabetes, are older than 30 years old, or are of a certain ethnicity, like Native American, African, Hispanic or Asian.
• It is treatable: Your midwife will help you come up with the best plan for treating gestational diabetes, from coming up with a weight-loss plan or better nutrition plan, finding ways to get more exercise, and possibly taking insulin injections.
• It may come back in future pregnancies: The American Diabetes Association states that you are two to three times more likely to develop gestational diabetes again during future pregnancies if you have it before. Try to keep your weight in a healthy range and eat nutritious foods to lower your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

This guest post is contributed by Jennifer Johnson, who writes on the topics of NP Schools. She welcomes your comments at her email Id:

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