Gestational Diabetes - Know The Risk Factors!
Gestational diabetes, as the name suggests, occurs during gestation or pregnancy when the blood sugar levels exceed the normal level. Gestational diabetes, like other form of diabetes, affects how your body cells use glucose or sugar during pregnancy, and usually disappears after you’ve given birth.
Causes and symptoms to look out for!
During gestation, the placenta produces hormones that lead to the accumulation of blood glucose. Under normal condition, the pancreas forms enough insulin to counter the buildup of blood glucose. The level of blood sugar rises when the pancreas fails to produce adequate insulin to manage your blood sugar.
Usually, women with gestational diabetes do not show symptoms. So, the presence of the condition can go unnoticed if they are not diagnosed during routine checkups and screening tests. Nevertheless, if the condition goes out of control, you may feel tired, feel thirsty or hungry, or feel the urge to urinate more often.
What are the risk factors?
About 2-10% of pregnant women are affected by gestational diabetes every year. The following factors are likely to put you at risk of developing gestational diabetes-
- Excess body weight- You may develop gestational diabetes if you were overweight or had gained excess weight (BMI equal to or greater than 30) before getting pregnant
- Family history- Women who have a family history of diabetes are likely to have gestational diabetes.
- Age- Women aged more than 25 years are at a greater risk of developing this condition.
- Diabetic history- A slightly raised blood sugar level may act as the precursor to Type-2 diabetes, which in turn increases your chance of getting affected by gestational diabetes.
- Previous pregnancy- Women who have previously given birth to a child weighing more than 4.1 Kg (9 pounds), or have delivered a stillborn child are likely to have gestational diabetes.
What is the treatment for gestational diabetes?
Urine tests are performed to check for ketones. In a non-diabetic person, glucagon, insulin and other hormones avert ketone levels in your blood from soaring up too high. Once you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, it’s important that you consult your doctor for treatment. Uncontrolled blood sugar level can affect you and your baby’s health after birth. This condition can be treated in the following ways-
- Keep a check on your blood sugar- During pregnancy, your doctor will have you tested for gestational diabetes 4-5times a day to keep a tab on your blood glucose level. For this, a small drop of blood is first drawn from the finger using a needle. The sample of blood is then placed on the test strip inserted into a device called the blood glucose meter to measure and monitor the level of blood sugar in your body.
- Medication- Anti-diabetic medications and insulin are prescribed to control the amount of glucose or sugar in the bloodstream. Your doctor may also suggest oral medications like Diabeta and Glynase to manage your blood glucose level.
- Healthy diet- Diabetic diet- one that helps control blood sugar levels- is highly prescribed by doctors during pregnancy. Cut down on carbohydrates and sugar and switch to food items that provide your body sufficient nutrients and calories.
Post treatment the blood sugar levels usually come down to normal within 4-6 weeks of giving birth.