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
Symptoms of Gestational
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
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.