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Gestational Diabetes

For some women, gestational diabetes is a severe medical issue they face throughout their pregnancy. Gestational diabetes occurs in about 4 percent of pregnancies. There are certain risks that increase the chance of gestational diabetes. Read on to learn more.

With gestational diabetes, some women are more at risk to encounter this medical dilemma than others. According to pregnancy statistics, only about 4 percent of pregnancies result in dealing with gestational diabetes. However, the symptoms can be severe and even life threatening to the baby if not treated correctly. This is why it is important to know and understand the increased risks women can encounter before getting pregnant or early on in their pregnancy. In this article, we'll also focus on treatment of gestational diabetes and how to recognize the signs and symptoms of this medical disorder.

Pregnant women at a higher risk of developing gestational diabetes include those who are obese when they become pregnant, those with high blood pressure or face other medical complications or has given birth to a larger (over nine lbs) baby prior to the current pregnancy. Women who have had still births or pregnancies ending in birth defects are also at an increased risk of developing gestational diabetes. If you are pregnant and have had gestational diabetes before, have a family history of the disease or are over the age of 30, you are at a higher risk. However, compared to the small percentage of pregnant women who develop gestational diabetes, about half of the women have no risk factors. The key to protecting yourself from these risk factors is to know what factors make you at risk for developing the disease.

Causes of gestational diabetes:

When women become pregnant, they all experience increased levels of certain hormones, which may include cortisol, estrogen and human placental lactogen. This increase can interfere with the ability of insulin to manage the pregnant woman's blood sugar levels. When this happens, it is called insulin resistance. Usually the pancreas can handle this resistance, but in small amount of cases it cannot and the result is gestational diabetes. 

Negative results of gestational diabetes:

If untreated, gestational diabetes can cause severe problems for the unborn baby including birth defects in infants, although these risks are very low. Babies might also grow too large, which would increase problems during childbirth resulting in injuries to their arms and shoulders. Having gestational diabetes might also increase the likelihood of a cesarean section because of this issue. Other assistance might be required as well including the use of forceps or vacuum delivery. The baby may also encounter a sudden and large drop in blood sugar, which would need to be treated through a needle in the vein. The newborn might also have an increased risk of problems like jaundice and breathing issues.  The baby is also likely to develop type 2 diabetes later on in life and may have a higher chance of being overweight throughout life. 

For the mother, most blood sugar levels generally return to normal following labor and delivery. After having gestational diabetes the mother is at an increased risk of having it during her next pregnancy and also have an increased risk of developing either type of diabetes later on in life. For most women with gestational diabetes, they are at a 50 percent chance to developing diabetes in the next 10 to 20 years following delivery.

Treatment and prevention of gestational diabetes:

The best way to prevent serious issues with gestational diabetes is to get treatment as soon as possible and follow your doctor's directions to the letter. It is important to remain careful if you develop gestational diabetes to reduce the impact the disease may have on your unborn baby as much as possible. Be sure to consult your doctor about any problems you encounter or with any questions you may have about gestational diabetes in order to have a smooth and successful gestation period and delivery of your baby.


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