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Your pregnancy: gestational diabetes

Baby Steps

Wednesday, February 26, 2014    

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Gestational diabetes mellitus is diabetes diagnosed during pregnancy, which can lead to pregnancy complications. It happens when the body cannot effectively process sugars and starches (carbohydrates), leading to high sugar levels in the blood stream. Most women with gestational diabetes can control their blood sugar levels by a following a healthy meal plan from their doctors and getting regular physical activity. Some women also need insulin to keep blood sugar levels under control.

Controlling gestational diabetes is important because poorly controlled diabetes increases the risk of pre-eclampsia; early delivery; Caesarean birth; having a big baby, which can complicate delivery; having a baby born with low blood sugar; breathing problems and jaundice.

Although gestational diabetes usually resolves after pregnancy, women who had gestational diabetes have a higher risk of developing diabetes in the future -- type 2 diabetes. Many women who have had gestational diabetes will develop type 2 diabetes later.

Controlling blood sugar is hard, especially during pregnancy, but it is important that women work at it. When blood sugar is high in a woman with gestational diabetes; it can cause her baby to grow very large (about nine pounds or more). Being very large makes it hard for the baby to be born through the birth canal and can cause nerve damage to the baby's shoulder during birth. A very large baby has an increased chance of being overweight or obese later in life. Being overweight or obese increases the chance of also having diabetes later in life. Blood sugar that remains high in a pregnant woman with type 1 or type 2 diabetes can also cause her baby to have birth defects, especially of the brain, spine, and heart.

If you have diabetes, it is very important for you to get your body ready before you get pregnant. If you are already pregnant, see your doctor right away.

Your doctor needs to look at the effects that diabetes has had on your body already, talk with you about getting and keeping control of your blood sugar, change medications if needed, and plan for frequent follow-ups.

-- Source: US Centres for Disease Control



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