Gestational diabetes occurs during the time of pregnancy. Changing hormones and weight gain makes it hard for the body to keep up with insulin needs. In the past, it has been seen as a disease that wasnt damaging and usually disappeared after the birth of the baby. However, now it is considered a warning sign for both the mother and the baby of metabolic changes that may affect them for life.
Why does gestational diabetes occur? The placenta secretes a hormone that acts against the affect of insulin on blood sugar. Women who have a history of diabetes in the family are more sensitive to this hormone. Mothers who have experienced gestational diabetes should research and be aware of what the symptoms of Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes are and be aware of the steps to take to avoid or delay this disease.
About 200,000 women develop gestational diabetes each year in the United States. The statistics are that five to ten percent of women will continue with Type 2 diabetes after the birth of the baby. Twenty to fifty percent may develop Type 2 diabetes later in life. Children of mothers with gestational diabetes are more at risk for obesity and developing diabetes as teens or adults.
Studies show that it is possible to reduce the risks by watching their diet and experience. In fact, women who went on to control their weight, exercise, and their diet had a 58 percent decrease in their risk for developing diabetes.
Women in the 26-28 weeks of pregnancy are routinely checked for blood glucose levels. Every pregnant woman is now checked during this time. Uncontrolled diabetes may cause babies to have a delayed maturity level, stillbirth, and poor placenta function. Women who carry large babies, nine pounds or more are more at risk for developing gestational diabetes.
Other risks are women who are already overweight when becoming pregnant, had gestational diabetes during a previous pregnancy, and those who have a damaged glucose tolerance.
Other potential risk causes come from race, nationality, and cultural differences. Some of these causes could be related to economic differences and the difference in diets.
The women found to be at a higher risk are American Indians, Asian Americans, African-Americans, Pacific islanders, and Hispanics.
Knowing your risks and how to avoid them makes a difference towards preventing or delaying the onset of diabetes after the baby is born.
Diet and Exercise Key
Diet is important. Drinking plenty of water, with a diet high in fiber and low fats are necessary for a healthy diet. Refined sugar should be cut out if possible, if not, cut out as much as possible. Watch your fat intake also. Eat plenty of fresh vegetables and low fat proteins.
Exercise is important, if you are already exercising when you become pregnant, it is important you remain active to the limits of your body. Low impact exercising, yoga, or water aerobics are choices for those women who are not on a regular exercise program.
If you have questions about gestational diabetes, or have been diagnosed with it, talk to your doctor and ask questions.