Although gestational diabetes is initially identified during pregnancy, did you know that it affects around one in ten pregnancies even when the expectant woman did not have the disease prior to being pregnant? The following are significant discoveries about gestational diabetes made by two medical professionals.
1. The prevalence of gestational diabetes has significantly increased.
According to Dr. Florence M. Brown, there has been a twofold rise in the number of women diagnosed with gestational diabetes between 1996 and 2010. One contributing factor to this increase could be the growing trend of women getting pregnant at a later stage in life. Dr. Brown notes that women aged 30 and above are more likely to be diagnosed with this condition.
2. Certain populations have a higher incidence of gestational diabetes.
Gestational diabetes is more commonly observed in specific ethnic groups. As mentioned by Amparo Gonzalez, Latinos and Asians are more prone to developing gestational diabetes, indicating a genetic component to the condition. Indian women are particularly vulnerable, with a study published in the Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism reporting a significant increase in the prevalence of gestational diabetes from 2% in the 1980s to nearly 17% by 2000.
3. There are different methods to diagnose gestational diabetes.
To assess for gestational diabetes, doctors employ various diagnostic approaches. One common method is an oral glucose tolerance test, where you will be asked to consume a sugary substance. This will cause changes in your blood sugar levels. If your pancreas produces enough insulin, your blood glucose levels will remain within a healthy range. However, if your body fails to produce sufficient insulin, your glucose levels will rise, indicating the presence of gestational diabetes.
4. Gestational diabetes can have serious health implications for both the mother and baby.
Elevated blood sugar levels in gestational diabetes can result in the birth of larger babies with a higher percentage of body fat. This may lead to the need for cesarean section deliveries and increases the risk of complications such as shoulder dystocia (difficulty in delivering the shoulders), birth injuries, preterm delivery, and low blood glucose levels in new-borns. Additionally, mothers with gestational diabetes are at an increased risk of developing preeclampsia, a serious condition characterized by high blood pressure.
5. Gestational diabetes can be managed through diet, exercise, and medication when necessary.
Upon receiving a gestational diabetes diagnosis, some women may need to make dietary adjustments and incorporate regular exercise. Others may require insulin injections. The appropriate treatment plan will be determined by the doctor. Following a meal plan that includes six small meals a day (three meals and three snacks) with lower carbohydrate intake in the morning is recommended. For instance, opting for proteins like eggs instead of cereals or fruits for breakfast. Moderate exercise, such as walking, is also beneficial.
6. Gestational diabetes increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the future.
Mothers with gestational diabetes often wonder if their babies will develop the condition. While the baby may have a higher risk of developing obesity later in life, the more significant concern is the mother’s potential development of type 2 diabetes. After a gestational diabetes diagnosis, there is a 50% chance that mothers may develop type 2 diabetes within seven to ten years. However, lifestyle changes, including a proper diet and exercise regimen, can reduce the risk of future type 2 diabetes by up to 50%, according to Dr. Brown.