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A Guide to the Symptoms of  Gestational Diabetes

 

A temporary type of diabetes mellitus that occurs in women during pregnancy is called gestational diabetes.  It is a glucose intolerance of the pregnancy and occurs in two to four percent of pregnancies.  Gestational
diabetes can be an early indicator that Type 2 diabetes may occur in the mother or child later on in life.

Usually, there is no immediate threat to the mother or child, but gestational diabetes can result in high blood pressure.

Symptoms of Gestational Diabetes

There are actually no immediate noticeable symptoms of gestational diabetes, but there are some early indicators that a woman is at risk.

One indicator is diabetes being found in her family's history, such as in parents or siblings.  Another is when gestational diabetes has already occurred in a previous pregnancy.  If a woman is obese, with a BMI over 29, she may also be at risk.

Women who become pregnant after the age of 30 have a higher risk of developing gestational diabetes. Other indicators include a previous pregnancy where high blood pressure or urinary tract infections occurred,
a large baby (9 pounds or more) was delivered, or a previous stillbirth or miscarriage occurred.

Hispanic, African-American or First Nations women also seem to be at a high risk of developing gestational diabetes.

Baby at Risk

Babies who are born to mothers who have gestational diabetes may experience the following symptoms after birth:

- Birth trauma to the shoulder
- A prolonged jaundice (yellowish skin and eyes)
- Respiratory distress syndrome
- Large or overweight (macrosomia)
- Low blood sugar
- Low calcium in the blood

Testing for Gestational Diabetes

If high blood sugar is detected between the 24th and 28th week of pregnancy, then a glucose tolerance test will be administered to determine if gestational diabetes is indeed present.  Women with early indications of developing the disease should be tested earlier in the pregnancy.  

Once gestational diabetes is detected, regular exercise and a healthy diet can be used to regulate blood sugar levels during the pregnancy.  This usually means reducing the intake of sugary foods such as biscuits, soft drinks and cakes.  Also, a low-fat diet is usually recommended.  

In cases where blood sugar levels are still too high, medication or insulin injections may be necessary.

Fortunately, gestational diabetes disappears on its own after delivery in most cases.  However, the blood sugar levels should still be checked several times after the birth to be sure.

If you are pregnant and feel you are at risk of gestational diabetes, see your doctor right away.  Knowing early on gives you more time to bring your blood sugar to a healthy level.

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