Gestational Diabetes, is essentially high blood sugar that develops during pregnancy but normalizes soon after childbirth. This can occur from the first trimester but is more common in the second and final trimester. If left untreated, it can escalate health issues during pregnancy and childbirth, so detecting and managing this condition early is key.
Women, who are more at risk for Gestational Diabetes, usually have a body mass index above 30, have had a baby who weighs 4.5 kg or more at birth.
Most often women, who have had Gestational Diabetes during a previous pregnancy and have a family history of diabetes are also at risk of developing Gestational Diabetes during pregnancy.
Gestational Diabetes is such that quite often there are not many glaring symptoms. Tiredness and the need to frequently urinate are symptoms that every pregnant woman goes through, just as increased thirst and a dry mouth may not immediately alert one to the possibility of diabetes. When the blood sugar gets too high, in a condition called Hyperglycaemia, Gestational Diabetes can be ascertained after a glucose test.
A family history of diabetes, being overweight and stress can all cause Gestational Diabetes. And since it involves an unborn child, it is important to know of the problems it can cause, if left untreated.
Gestational Diabetes can cause problems such as:
Induced labour or caesarean section, since the baby grows larger than usual.
Polyhydramnios – Gestational Diabetes can sometimes lead to too much amniotic fluid in the womb, which can cause premature labour.
Premature Birth – Many women with gestational diabetes have fairly normal pregnancies and have healthy babies. But in some cases premature birth or pre-mature delivery before the completion of 37 weeks might occur.
Pre-eclampsia – This is a condition that causes high blood pressure during pregnancy.
Gestational Diabetes can lead to the baby developing low blood sugar and jaundice, soon after being born. In extremely rare cases it can also lead to a stillborn baby.
It also increases the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life.
With regard to Gestational Diabetes, early detection is key. During an antenatal appointment at 8 or 12 weeks of one’s pregnancy, a screening test in the form of an oral glucose test of OGTT is given.
The OGTT is usually done between the 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy. In case the patient was diagnosed with gestational diabetes in a prior pregnancy, they are encouraged to go for a screening far earlier in their pregnancy. Another round of testing is done between the 24 and 28 weeks, to see if the result is normal. The whole purpose is to monitor how the body is coping with the pregnancy and whether the Gestational Diabetes is having any adverse effect on the growing foetus.
A finger pricking device may also be used while checking for blood sugar like it is used in the case of regular diabetes.
Tablets and insulin injections are the other methods used to control Gestational Diabetes. It is recommended to give birth before the completion of 41 weeks, even if this means induced labour or a caesarian.
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