Gestational diabetes affects about 4% of all pregnant women.
It usually begins in the fifth or sixth month of pregnancy (between the 24th and 28th weeks).
Screening for gestational diabetes is a routine part of prenatal care.
Most pregnant women are given a blood test known as a glucose challenge
test between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy. If your blood sugar level is higher than normal,
you'll likely need a second test to confirm the diagnosis.
Most often, gestational diabetes goes away after the baby is born.
For most women, gestational diabetes doesn't cause noticeable signs or symptoms.
Some women may however experience frequent urination, excessive thirst, or increased fatigue (which are common during pregnancy anyway).
Controlling your blood sugar level is essential to keeping your baby healthy
and avoiding complications during delivery.
Treatment for gestational diabetes always includes special meal plans and
scheduled physical activity. It may also include daily blood glucose testing
and insulin injections.
Gestational Diabetes does not cause the kinds of birth defects sometimes seen
in babies whose mothers had diabetes before pregnancy. However, untreated or
poorly controlled gestational diabetes can hurt your baby. When you have gestational diabetes,
your pancreas works overtime to produce insulin, but the insulin does not lower your blood
glucose levels. Although insulin does not cross the placenta, glucose and other nutrients do.
So extra blood glucose goes through the placenta, giving the baby high blood glucose levels.
This causes the baby's pancreas to make extra insulin to get rid of the blood glucose.
Since the baby is getting more energy than it needs to grow and develop, the extra energy is stored as fat.
This can lead to macrosomia, or a "fat" baby. Babies with macrosomia face health problems of
their own, including damage to their shoulders during birth. Because of the extra insulin made
by the baby's pancreas, newborns may have very low blood glucose levels at birth and are also at
higher risk for breathing problems. Babies with excess insulin become children who are at risk for
obesity and adults who are at risk for type 2 diabetes.