Gestational diabetes is a disorder in which women that previously did not carry diabetes test positive for high blood glucose levels during their pregnancy.
Though not uncommon, it is thought that anywhere between three and ten percent of pregnant women are diagnosed with gestational diabetes sometime during their pregnancy.
But just what does this diagnosis mean to the health and welfare of the mother and her unborn child?
Since no specific cause has been identified for gestational diabetes, scientists don’t know how to prevent it. The closest they have come to understanding is that it is believed that hormones produced during pregnancy reduce a woman’s sensitivity to insulin and the result is high blood sugar levels.
Every pregnant woman is tested for gestational diabetes during her prenatal care visits because generally there are very few symptoms.
If the mother has gestational diabetes, babies are at a higher risk for complications. These are typically growth abnormalities and low blood sugar.
The good thing is that gestational diabetes is completely reversible and women who otherwise have good control over their glucose levels can decrease the risk of these birth problems.
In fact, women who can keep their gestational diabetes under complete control are known to give birth to perfectly healthy babies.
The down side is women who develop gestational diabetes during their pregnancy now run a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes post-pregnancy. Some children are prone to develop childhood obesity and develop type 2 diabetes later in life.
Pregnant women who develop gestational diabetes are generally treated with diet plan and exercise, but in some extreme cases they are administered an anti-diabetic drug, such as insulin. The goal of treatment is to reduce the risks for both mother and child without endangering either.