Gestational diabetes is a variety of diabetes that affects pregnant women. Women with gestational diabetes may not have had diabetes prior to pregnancy. In most cases, gestational diabetes resolves itself after the pregnancy.
Gestational diabetes affects over 135,000 pregnant women a year, making it a common pregnancy complication. Gestational diabetes usually develops between the 24th and 28th week of pregnancy. Careful monitoring and control of blood sugar levels throughout the pregnancy is the best treatment.
Gestational Diabetes Risk Factors
A family history of diabetes increases the risk of gestational diabetes during pregnancy. Pregnant women who are obese are also at greater risk of developing gestational diabetes, as are women over the age of 25 at the time of the pregnancy.
Many ethnicities are susceptible to gestational diabetes, including pregnant women of Hispanic, African American, Pacific Islander or Native American descent. Women from South Asian, East Asia or indigenous Australian ethnic groups are also at higher risk of diabetes symptoms during pregnancy.
A history of gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy increases the risk of gestational diabetes in the current pregnancy. Pregnant women who have experienced a stillbirth or delivered large babies are at increased risk of gestational diabetes in subsequent pregnancies.
Gestational Diabetes Symptoms
Symptoms of gestational diabetes are rarely severe. The pregnant woman may experience increased thirst and increased urination during pregnancy. The pregnancy may be marked by nausea, vomiting, fatigue and an increased risk of infections. The pregnancy may also be affected by weight loss in spite of an increased appetite in the pregnant woman. Blurred vision is also a symptom.
Diabetes and Pregnancy Complications
Gestational diabetes increases the risk of preeclampsia and eclampsia in pregnant women. A pregnancy has a greater chance of ending in a miscarriage if gestational diabetes is present. Women who experience gestational diabetes during pregnancy are thirty to forty percent more likely to develop diabetes within ten years of the pregnancy, compared to those who do not develop the condition during pregnancy. This risk increases if the pregnant woman is obese.
Without treatment, gestational diabetes results in very large babies that may require surgical assistance for delivery. Gestational diabetes also increases the risk of respiratory distress syndrome in babies.
Diabetes during pregnancy increases the chance of overweight or obese babies, which may cause future health complications. Incidence rates of infant jaundice and hypoglycemia are higher in a pregnancy affected by gestational diabetes.
Gestational Diabetes Treatment and Pregnancy Outcomes
Pregnancy can result in a healthy baby even with gestational diabetes, if the condition is identified and treated. Screening for gestational diabetes usually occurs in the second trimester of pregnancy, with an oral glucose test to detect abnormalities in the pregnant woman’s blood sugar.
Treatment of gestational diabetes includes dietary changes, physical exercise, and insulin injections if necessary. The pregnant woman will be carefully monitored for the rest of the pregnancy, and will attend more than the usual number of prenatal doctor visits.
Beers, M. H.,