Health & Fitness

Gestational Diabetes at a Glance

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Gestational diabetes is high blood sugar that is first diagnosed during pregnancy. It affects about 4 percent of pregnant women in the United States each year. It occurs when the body is not able to make and use all the insulin it needs for pregnancy. Without enough insulin, glucose cannot leave the blood and be changed to energy. Glucose builds up into hyperglycemia and can harm your baby.

Here are some key facts about this type:

Gestational diabetes affects the mother after the baby's body has been formed, while the baby is growing. Because of this, gestational diabetes does not cause the kinds of birth defects sometimes seen in those whose mothers had diabetes before pregnancy.

Generally, there are no symptoms. Health care providers will test women who have average risk for gestational diabetes between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy, according to the National Institutes of Health. If you are at high risk, a test may be advised as soon as you know you are pregnant.

You can manage gestational diabetes by eating healthy foods, exercising regularly and, if necessary, taking medication.

Untreated or poorly managed gestational diabetes can hurt your baby. The extra glucose can go though the placenta and give the baby high glucose levels. Because the baby is getting more energy than is needed, the extra fuel is stored as fat, which can lead to other health problems for the child, including a higher risk for obesity and diabetes.

Typically, the mother's blood glucose level returns to normal after delivery.

Sources:

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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