Dr. Beena Bansal, Consultant, Endocrinology, Medanta – Medicity explains in simple terms the concept of Gestational Diabetes and how it can affect your pregnancy.
Overview of gestational diabetes
The term Gestational Diabetes can be confusing to many, but it simply means diabetes that has . its onset or is first recognized during pregnancy. Diabetes is also referred to as Madhu-Mai in Hindi or most commonly known as sugar. It is very important for women that are pregnant or planning to get pregnant to understand Gestational Diabetes since it can result in complications during pregnancy. The onset of diabetes during pregnancy occurs in about 7% of all pregnancies in the second and third trimester. Hence, this is a big issue for pregnant women.
Understanding the onset of gestational diabetes
During pregnancy, for most women, the body produces extra insulin to keep the blood sugar levels in the healthy range. But for some pregnant women, the extra insulin is not enough to keep their blood sugar levels normal. Gestational diabetes starts when the body is not able to make and use all the insulin it needs for pregnancy.
Without enough insulin, glucose cannot leave the blood and be changed to energy. The glucose then builds up in the blood. At about the 20th to the 24th week of pregnancy, these women end up with high blood sugar or gestational diabetes. The high blood sugar also reaches the fetus (the developing embryo/baby) and can result in increasing the baby size and other complications for both the baby and mother. The definition of a large baby in India is birth weight of greater than 4 kg.
Managing gestational diabetes
Gestational diabetes needs to be managed properly to ensure a smooth and safe delivery. If left unchecked, gestational diabetes can lead to a significant increase in still births, large babies, infant morbidity and other complications for the unborn child. Newborn babies affected by the mothers’ gestational diabetes are at risk for Type II diabetes later in their life. There are also significant complications for the mother; some of these can be very serious.
Treating gestational diabetes
The good news is that gestational diabetes can be treated, especially if you find out about it early in the pregnancy. The best is to start treatment quickly. Treatment greatly lowers the baby’s chances of having problems. Usually changes in diet are sufficient for most women. But some require extra insulin. It is best of consult a doctor to understand all the options.
Most of the times, gestational diabetes goes away after the baby is born. The changes in the body that causes gestational diabetes normally occur only when pregnant. After the baby is born, the body goes back to normal and the condition goes away. But do keep in mind that if you have had gestational diabetes, you are at a higher risk for diabetes in general.
So be safe and make sure that if you are pregnant, that you are tested for gestational diabetes in your 20th -24th week of pregnancy, or the 2nd trimester of pregnancy. The value of blood sugar that is normal during pregnancy is different from pre-pregnancy values. If you have been tested and have a blood sugar value of more than 140 Mg/Dl - you may have gestational diabetes and should consult an endocrinologist.