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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Gestational Diabetes Explained

By Paul Partridge

A form of diabetes that affects pregnant women is called gestational diabetes. A lot of women will find that once they have had the baby that their blood sugar levels get back to normal and the diabetes goes away. Around four percent of pregnant women will develop gestational diabetes and those with risk factors will be more likely to develop it.

Gestational diabetes is believed to start because of the hormones produced in pregnancy. These hormones tend to reduce the woman's insulin receptivity, which leads to high blood sugar levels. The action of insulin on the mother's body can also be blocked by the hormones which help to develop the placenta.

This is known as insulin resistance. The amount of insulin that a pregnant woman needs to remove glucose from the body is three times as much as those who are not expecting. So once the body does not use insulin because of insulin resistance, the mother develops gestational diabetes.

Effects on baby

Late in a pregnancy, gestational diabetes can affect the mother and the baby. Despite the fact that insulin does not cross the placenta, glucose still does. When this glucose passes through the placenta it can lead to high blood glucose levels in the baby.

The baby's pancreas then have to create more insulin to get rid of this excess glucose and this puts a strain on them. Moreover, as the baby's body receives more energy than it requires, the extra energy is stored as fat to lead to a macrosomia or a 'Fat' baby. These babies can have problems when they are born such as hypoglycemia and breathing problems.

Treating the condition

Care must be administered as soon as gestational diabetes is diagnosed as it can cause problems. The emphasis in treatment here lies in maintaining normal blood glucose levels. This will involve the mother following a healthy eating plan with some physical exercise. Blood glucose testing should be done on a periodical basis, and if required, insulin injections may be prescribed by the doctor.

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