Gestational diabetes in pregnant women leads to a rise in her blood sugar levels. It gets diagnosed when one is pregnant at around week 24 and week 28. This is the time when the hormones secreted by the placenta blocks the insulin. Insulin is produced by the pancreas and it controls how the body breaks down carbs and fats and helps to convert sugar in the form of energy. When the insulin is blocked, it does not allow the body to regulate the increase in blood sugar and this in turns leads to high levels of sugar.
Unlike the type 1 and type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes is not permanent. Once the woman delivers the baby, the blood sugar tends to become normal. However, care needs to be taken since those women who have gestational diabetes are at high risk of developing diabetes in the future.
GD may not affect all women who are pregnant. Some women are at a higher risk of developing the condition.
Women at high risk of developing gestational diabetes
As per research, some women are more likely to develop this condition. One may have an increased risk of diabetes if they are:
- Overweight – Extra weight tends to affect the ability of the insulin to keep a check on the blood sugar levels. A woman with a BMI higher than 30 when going into pregnancy is at high risk of having GD.
- Abdominal fat – A high level of fat in the tummy in the first trimester can lead to a risk of getting diagnosed with gestational diabetes.
- Age – Women who are over 35 years of age are at a high risk of gestational diabetes
- Family history – A family history of diabetes or GD in the last pregnancy increases the likelihood of developing GD.
- Bed rest – If the condition is such that the woman has been asked to be on bed rest then there is a high chance of getting diagnosed with GD.
Understanding the signs and symptoms of GD can help one seek immediate medical help.
Know the symptoms of GD.
Gestational diabetes may have no symptoms. However, there are some signs which should ring an alarm.
- Excess or unusual feeling of thirst
- High frequency of urination and in large quantities
- Presence of sugar in urine which can be found only in a routine test
These symptoms are quite common during normal pregnancy and it may be a little difficult to differentiate if the condition is because of GD. It is recommended to get checked so that the condition can be monitored soon and it does not harm the women or her baby.
Does gestational diabetes affect the mother and the baby?
The problem gets serious when the condition is left untreated and excess sugar circulates in the mother’s blood and enters the placenta and thus the fetal circulation. For the mother, the condition could lead to a large baby or a high chance of a C-section. The baby may develop jaundice or suffer from difficulties in breathing. It could also lead to a stillbirth if the condition becomes severe.