Author: Dr. Anil Pinto
|Dr. Anil Pinto|
Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that occurs in pregnant women. Gestational diabetes occurs when a woman who has never had diabetes before, experiences high blood sugar levels during pregnancy. This condition usually develops in the second trimester and most often returns to normal soon after delivery. According to a study done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2014, gestational diabetes has an estimated prevalence of around 9.2%.
The exact cause of gestational diabetes is unknown however it is thought that pregnancy hormones play a vital role. The placenta which supports the baby to grow and develop produces various other hormones during pregnancy. A majority of these hormones impair the function of insulin (a hormone that helps to regulate blood sugar by taking glucose out of the bloodstream and into the cells) in the body cells. As a result, the blood sugar levels increase and can lead to various complications. The extra blood sugar may enter the baby’s blood resulting in a “fat” baby with associated health concerns.
Most women with gestational diabetes do not have any significant signs or symptoms, which is why screening tests are so important. These tests are usually performed during the 24th-28th weeks of pregnancy for early detection of diabetes. Symptoms, if present, may include blurry vision, fatigue, frequent UTIs or skin infections, nausea and vomiting, and increased hunger, thirst, and urination.
Women who may be at risk for developing this condition can take steps to have a healthier pregnancy by doing these things.
- Shed Excess Weight Before Pregnancy: Losing weight during pregnancy is not recommended. If you are planning to get pregnant, getting rid of the excess pounds beforehand will help you to avoid gestational diabetes.
- Lead an Active Lifestyle: A light to moderate exercise routine during pregnancy will help provide protection against gestational diabetes. If you cannot fit a moderate 30-minute workout into your daily schedule, going for a 10-minute walk 3 times a day is just as good. Make sure you are putting something into the fitness bank every day.
- Eat Healthy: It is okay to indulge your sweet tooth once in a way, but as a general rule stay away from sugary foods. Focus on high-fiber, low-fat foods such as vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
Following these steps can increase the chances of having a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby and will decrease your risk of developing gestational diabetes.
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