Gestational diabetes (high blood sugar during pregnancy) is the condition when a woman with no past diabetes story gets the disease during pregnancy. This disease generally starts in the second half of pregnancy and can lead to serious health risks for the mother and the baby if not managed well. In most cases, complications disappear after giving birth.
How is diabetes diagnosed in pregnancy?
Fasting blood sugar test (FBST) is a must in the early weeks of pregnancy in order to see if the patient has problems with insulin. Patients with blood glucose above 126 mg/dl while fasting and above 200 mg/dl at any given time should be considered as overt diabetes.
Average women should be screened for risks with 50 grams of glucose with an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) at 24th-28th weeks of the pregnancy. When there are risk factors however, like a past story of similar diseases or overweight, your doctor will probably ask for the OGTT test to be performed earlier and a second test to be held by the 24th week.
Gestational diabetes high risk group
Any pregnant woman can suffer from this disease but some are at higher risk, like:
- 40 or higher aged women,
- Overweight women with 30 or higher body mass index
- Who gave birth to overweighed babies (4.5 kg or more) in previous pregnancies,
- Who had a story of insulin resistance in the past,
- Who has parents with diabetes.
Complications related to diabetes during pregnancy
The likelihood of serious congenital abnormalities in babies of mothers with this disease is between 6-12 percent, which is 6-7 times higher than average. The likelihood of maternal hypertension, unexplained miscarriage, recurrent urinary tract and vaginal infections also increase.
Fetal growth retardation is more common as well as difficult delivery/birth traumas, and premature birth.
Treatment of gestational diabetes
Oral medications which are safely consumed in daily life can cause serious anomalies when the case is a pregnant woman. Therefore, the best treatments are life changes instead of pills or injections. Medication can only be an option when none of these alternatives work:
- Diet: The primary treatment option is diet preferably under the assistance of a specialist. A good diet should consist of 50-55 percent carbohydrate, 30 percent fat and 20 percent protein. The aim of healthy eating therapy is to prevent excessive weight gain and to break the tissue resistance to insulin.
- Exercise: Significant drops in blood glucose levels are possible even with light physical exercises. Walking, swimming and prenatal yoga are only some of your options.
- Planned pregnancy: Any excess weight can make the pregnancy period harder than you can imagine. Therefore, it is best to start losing extra fat as soon as you start thinking of having a baby. Especially when you have some the risk factors we mentioned above, consult a doctor prior to your pregnancy plan.