Gestational Diabetes – Diagnosis, Treatment and More

Pregnancy is a critical time, and there are several complications associated with it. One of them is gestational diabetes which can develop as a result of fluctuating sugar levels in the blood. Gestational Diabetes can be very critical as they might be susceptible to developing type 2 diabetes in the later stage. As much as it is essential to control this condition for the nurturing baby, it is equally vital for the mother. So in this read, we will be discussing Gestational Diabetes in detail.

What is Gestational Diabetes?

Gestational diabetes is caused during the pregnancy  when the mother develops it for the first time during this period. It can happen to anyone because of the hormonal imbalance, which affects the sugar/glucose absorption by the cells.  Gestational diabetes is a growing multitude in India, and a reported 4.6-14% is detected in women with urban lifestyles, while 1.7-13.2% in rural regions. To control any adverse health effects, timely screening and treatment are advisable by experts. If you are expecting, gestational diabetes can affect your baby & you which can be problematic. However, with a proper diet, medication and exercise one can control it.

Most Common Causes of Gestational Diabetes

Most Common causes of Gestational Diabetes The exact reason for gestational diabetes cannot be known. However, recent studies show that you are likely to be detected with gestational diabetes because of the following two reasons.

  1. Human placental lactogen (hPL) increase – hPL is a hormone produced during pregnancy which directly stimulates the insulin resistance in women. It is reported that hPL increases 30 times, thereby spiking insulin resistance in the body, leading to gestational diabetes.
  2. Insulin resistance induced by other hormones – Hormones like estrogen, cortisone, etc. can also trigger the insulin resistance during pregnancy. Some of the other factors contributing to gestational diabetes can be excess weight before pregnancy, so try to maintain optimal weight.

Gestational Diabetes Infographics

How is It Diagnosed?

Generally, women don’t experience any symptoms and signs in early pregnancy. However, during the regular checkup session, your diabetes specialist doctor can test you for gestational diabetes between 24-28 weeks of pregnancy. Symptoms like excessive thirst, constant fatigue, frequent urination, unusual snoring, etc. might indicate that you have gestational diabetes. And it is the time when you should consult your doctor and get diagnosed. Diagnosis of gestational diabetes can be performed while routine screening during the pregnancy period in the following ways.

  • Glucose challenge test (GCT) – For this two-step test, the expecting mother has to consume a sugar drink, and after an hour, the blood sugar level is examined. GCT helps to know if the concerned person has gestational diabetes or not. Performed in 24-28 weeks of pregnancy, GCT can be undergone in any healthcare facility or laboratory easily.
  • Glucose tolerance test – Now, this might sound similar to GCT, but it doesn’t measure blood sugar levels; rather tracks how sugar is absorbed and circulated by your blood cells. In this case, you have to go for eight hours of fasting before the test, so you will not be allowed to eat or drink anything. Next, a sample of your blood will be tested and checked for diabetes. If found positive, you will be given a measured quantity of sugary syrup. After two hours of drinking it, the glucose level will be checked.

How Can Gestational Diabetes Affect Your Pregnancy?

Gestational diabetes poses several risks not only during your pregnancy but also can be a complicated affair during childbirth. The gestational diabetes may affect your pregnancy in the following ways:

The risk to the baby:

  • While the ideal weight is 2.4-4.5 kg during birth, a baby born from a mother with gestational diabetes can be overweight.
  • The newborn baby might experience a condition known as respiratory distress syndrome wherein it will face difficulty in breathing.
  • If gestational diabetes is not treated or the treatment is stopped, the baby born might be a stillbirth.
  • Premature birth is another complication associated with the baby.

Complications for the pregnant mother:

  • Since the babies born to a mother with gestational diabetes have excess weight, there might be complications with vaginal delivery. As a result, doctors might consider C-section delivery to avoid any problem.
  • Pregnant women with gestational diabetes might have severely low blood sugar (also known as hypoglycemia) after childbirth.
  • Gestational diabetic women might also develop obesity and type 2 diabetes post-pregnancy.

However, you shouldn’t feel uneasy with these risk factors because, with proper care and management, gestational diabetes can be controlled easily.

Treatment of Gestational Diabetes in Delhi

Gestational diabetes can be treated with a list of things that you need to follow during your pregnancy. Doctors might ask you to take medications like injectable insulin, metformin, etc., to regulate your blood sugar levels. Apart from this, here is a list of things you need to do to control gestational diabetes:

  • Get yourself a glucose monitoring device so you can check if you are taking the right amount of sugar.
  • Try to eat healthy and include foods like whole grains, brown rice, starchy vegetables, legumes, etc.
  • Protein and fat diet should be equally incorporated into the diet plan.
  • If you have gained excess weight, try reducing it with regular exercise that is allowed during the pregnancy period.

Take Away

After giving birth, gestational diabetes goes away on its own after a certain period. However, you should keep checking your blood sugar levels constantly to ensure that you don’t have type 2 diabetes. It is because gestational diabetic women are at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes; even studies show that over 50% of the women with gestational diabetes were detected with type 2 diabetes in the later stage of their life.  Moreover, your baby might develop risks like obesity or type 2 diabetes, which is why you should regulate their eating habits and diet plan from an early age. Also, try encouraging them to get into routine exercise.

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