What is Gestational Diabetes?
Gestational diabetes, in simple words, is pregnancy induced diabetes. It is a temporary hyperglycemia (high blood sugar levels) that goes away after childbirth. It occurs due to the failure of pancreas to make more insulin during pregnancy when the demand is higher. There is also some resistance of the body to the available insulin, which adds fuel to fire.
Incidence of Gestational Diabetes
Studies have shown that about 4% of all the pregnant women get gestational diabetes. Uncontrolled diabetes during pregnancy can cause problems not only for the mother, but for the child as well. This is because an excess of sugar and other nutrients can cross from the mother’s circulation, through the placenta, into the fetal circulation.
Problems in the newborn
The extra sugar that goes into the fetal circulation stimulates the baby’s pancreas to produce extra insulin in an attempt to get rid of excess sugar. High levels of insulin then cause a condition called microsomatia- also known as fat baby syndrome. Extra sugars and elevated insulin force the baby’s body to produce extra fat.
Other health concerns in babies with microsomatia are:
- Shoulder injury during birth
- Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) due to elevated insulin
- Increased risk of breathing problems
Gestational diabetes should be addressed as soon as possible so that its complications in mother and the child can be avoided. The aim is to reduce blood sugar levels in the pregnant woman and bring it back to the normal. The management includes:
- Testing the blood sugar daily
- Adhering to special meal plans
- Scheduled physical activity