Gestational diabetes is a common type of diabetes that occurs only during pregnancy. This condition is characterized by a disruption in the normal blood sugar levels. This type of diabetes can cause serious complications during pregnancy that include:
- Hypoglycemia: This means that there is low blood sugar after birth. Hypoglycemia can cause the baby serious distress and can sometimes lead to prolonged hospital stay or an admission to the neonatal intensive care unit.
- Macrosomia: This means that the baby is large for gestational age. This can cause complications during delivery and can sometimes be an indication for cesarean section.
- Premature delivery: The risk of early delivery is higher for patients with gestational diabetes. This could result in both complications for the mother and the baby. Babies who are born too early can experience respiratory problems, feeding difficulties and developmental delays.
For these reasons it is important that all women get screened for this condition during pregnancy. All pregnant women should be screened for gestational diabetes by the 26th week of pregnancy. This is done using a glucose challenge test where a sugary drink is consumed and glucose levels are later checked. Often gestational diabetes is managed simply with careful diet and daily finger sticks with a free diabetes meter to monitor how foods affect the blood sugar. Other times it will require insulin use. Be sure to complete all of your prenatal testing to screen for this important disorder. Also, patients who have had gestational diabetes should remember that they are at an increased risk for later developing type 2 diabetes.
See your doctor regularly and be sure to have all blood work done to take care of yourself if you have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes. Remember, prenatal care is the best way to reduce the risk of problems related to gestational diabetes because you can detect and control this condition!
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