If you are familiar with the word diabetes, then you will be no stranger to gestational diabetes. It literally means diabetes you get while you were pregnant.
The only difference between gestational diabetes and the other 2 types of diabetes is that the former is diagnosed only during pregnancy. After delivery, their physiological internal state would return to normal.
In terms of physiology, when you are pregnant, you are in a diabetogenic state. That simply translated to an increase in insulin resistance caused by surge in pregnancy hormones like cortisol and human placental lactogen.
According to a report which compiled data from 14 tertiary centres in Malaysia, the incidence of gestational diabetes is in between 8 to 9%.
In 2011 and 2012, around 13% of pregnant women who diagnosed with gestational diabetes have to be subjected to caeserean section. 16% of babies experienced complications when they were born weighing 4 kg or more.
Without executing the right management, gestational diabetes can impose a certain amount of risk to complicate your current pregnancy while increasing the likelihood for you to be diagnosed with diabetes mellitus type to later on.
These are some risk factors for gestational diabetes
There is no telling why some women are more prone to develop this condition than the other. However, researchers have determined a few reasons which they might be related with.
Obesity. There is a reason why your doctor has been advising you to drop a few pounds of weight before trying to get pregnant. For Asian population, those who are over 27.5 kgm-2 of BMI (obese), you are more likely to be diagnosed with gestational diabetes. The extra weight can affect insulin’s ability to keep blood sugar in check.
Advanced maternal age. As you were growing older, so does your risk to get gestational diabetes. The risk is significantly higher when you are 35 years old and above.
Family history of gestational diabetes. If someone in your family has been diagnosed with gestational diabetes or the other form of diabetes, you are at a high risk to develop one yourself. This is particularly true for women who are from African-American, Asian, Hispanic and Native American descent.
Previous history of gestational diabetes. If you have been diagnosed during your previous pregnancy, studies suggest that you are more likely to get it in your subsequent pregnancies.
You have a higher level of abdominal fat. Women who have tummy fat during the first trimester of pregnancy prone to develop gestational diabetes. The research pertaining to that conclusion has been published in the American Diabetes Association’s Journal Diabetes Care
These symptoms can indicate you have gestational diabetes
Trying to search for symptoms can be challenging and difficult as for most cases, they don’t experience any.
Diabetes can be silent. That’s why it’s important for you to comply with the prenatal appointment. Gestational diabetes screening is one of the tests included in prenatal care.
Those who do experience symptoms, would have:
- Extreme thirst.
- Frequent urination in large amounts.
- Urine examination shows sugar in the urine.
If you realised, the symptoms which have been listed are quite similar to the diabetes mellitus type 2. Well it is.
How gestational diabetes can affect your pregnancy
There are a few complications which are associated with gestational diabetes. Without management that aims to achieve optimal blood sugar control, these can happen:
- Macrosomia (large baby weighing more than 4kg). This happens due to excessive secretion of foetal insulin and its action on growing cells. As a result, mothers need to be managed by caeserean section.
- Increased risk of preeclampsia
- Foetal problems such as jaundice, breathing difficulties and hypoglycaemia.
It can be gruesome. However, for those who comply with doctor’s advice and monitor their blood sugar regularly, they would have low risk of developing those listed complications.
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