Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that starts during pregnancy. If the pregnant woman has diabetes, her body is not able to use the sugar (glucose) in her blood as well as it should. So the level of sugar in her blood becomes higher than normal. Gestational diabetes affects about 4% of all pregnant women , it usually begins in-between the 24th and 28th week. Most often, gestational diabetes goes away after the baby is born.
Causes of gestational diabetes:
Almost all women have some degree of impaired glucose intolerance during pregnancy because of hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy. That means that their blood sugar may be higher than normal, but not high enough to have diabetes. Usually the mother’s pancreas is able to produce more insulin (about three times the normal amount) to overcome the effect of the pregnancy hormones on glucose levels. If, however, the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin to overcome the effect of the increased hormones during pregnancy glucose levels will rise, resulting in gestational diabetes.
The following factors increase the risk of developing diabetes during pregnancy:
1. Being overweight prior to becoming pregnant.
2. Having glucose in the urine.
3. Impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glucose (blood glucose levels are high, but not high enough to be diabetic.)
4. Family history of diabetes. (If the parents or siblings have diabetes)
5. Previously giving birth to a baby over 9 pounds.
6. Having gestational diabetes with a previous pregnancy.
7. Having too much amniotic fluid (A condition called polyhydramnios)
*Many women who develop gestational diabetes have no known risk factors.
High-risk women should be screened for gestational diabetes as early as possible during their pregnancies, all other women will be screened between the 24th and 28th week of pregnancy.
You may be offered a scan to indicate the weight of baby.
The goals of treatments are to maintain blood glucose level within normal limits during the duration of the pregnancy, and ensure the well being the baby.