What is Gestational Diabetes?
Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is a temporary condition that can occur or be diagnosed in pregnancy. If you have gestational diabetes, it means that your blood sugar levels are higher than normal during pregnancy.
Who Are Those at Risk of GDM?
- are overweight
- are above 25 years of age
- are pregnant with more than one baby (twins, triplets, etc).
- have a high blood pressure prior to pregnancy
- gained a lot of weight in a previous or current pregnancy
- have conditions like PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome)
- had GDM in a previous pregnancy
The Dangers of Having GDM
If a mother had diabetes prior to becoming pregnant, she has a double risk of her babies sustaining serious injury at birth, and a triple risk of having caesarean deliveries (CS). Other dangers include:
IN THE MOTHER:
- Kidney disease (diabetic nephropathy)
- Heart diseases (like ischemic heart disease, myocardial infarction)
- Eye disease (diabetic retinopathy)
- Miscarriage: especially in women with preexisting diabetes mellitus that have poor blood sugar control.
IN THE BABY:
– Birth defects: Babies born to mothers with GDM are often at a higher risk of having defects in their hearts, central nervous systems, digestive, genitourinary, and skeletal systems.
– Macrosomia (a big baby)
– Growth restrictions
– An increased risk for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) at age 6.
How to Prevent GDM
Gestational diabetes cannot be prevented altogether. However, you can lower your risk for GDM if you take the following steps:
1. Before pregnancy, if you’re obese, try to lose weight.
2. Set a goal to not exceed a certain weight when you get pregnant.
3. Exercise regularly
4. Eat low-fat, high-fibre foods
5. Eat smaller food portions
If you’re at risk of having gestational diabetes and you desire to get pregnant again, inform your doctor so that you can be properly screened for risk factors and morbidity would be avoided.