SERVICES > PREGNANCY & CHILDBIRTH > DIABETES DURING PREGNANCY
In this brief video, Alison Sullivan, DO, an OBGYN physician with
Wellmont Medical Associates Women's Health, explains what gestational diabetes is and why it's important to monitor. Learn more below.
Diabetes occurs when there is a higher level of glucose in the blood than normal. Glucose comes from the breakdown of the food you eat. It travels through your body in the blood.
A hormone called insulin then helps glucose move from your blood to your cells, where it can be used for energy.
When there's a problem with making or using insulin, the glucose can't move into your cells. Instead, it builds up in your blood. The build-up of glucose is called hyperglycemia.
Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy or is first recognized during pregnancy.
The extra glucose can affect the mother and the baby.
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Gestational diabetes is caused by reduced sensitivity to insulin during pregnancy.
Gestational diabetes is more common in women who are 25 years and older.
It's also more common in women of Hispanic, African-American, Native-American, Asian-American, Indigenous Australian, or a Pacific Islander descent.
Factors that may increase the risk of gestational diabetes include:
Also, hormones that help the baby's growth may interfere with insulin.
This condition usually does not cause any symptoms. If symptoms do occur, they may include:
As part of your prenatal screening, you'll be tested for gestational diabetes.
If you don't have a history of diabetes, the test will be done at 24–28 weeks of gestation.
If you have any risk factors – especially if you are high risk for gestational diabetes or already have symptoms – you will likely be tested earlier in your pregnancy.
For your test, you'll be given a drink that has a special glucose solution in it.
The level of glucose in your blood will then be measured.
Some tests your doctor might use require fasting (not eating or drinking anything).
The goal of treatment is to return your blood glucose levels to normal.
Treatment may include:
A dietitian can help you develop a healthy meal plan.
In general, you should follow these guidelines:
Do not gain more weight during pregnancy than your doctor advises. Excess weight can increase the number or severity of complications in your pregnancy. It will also make it more difficult to control your diabetes.
Physical activity can make it easier for your body to use glucose. There are some precautions you may need to take or certain exercises you may need to avoid. Ask your doctor about an exercise plan.
A blood glucose monitor will help you check your glucose levels throughout the day.
Knowing your glucose level will help you plan your meals, activities and medication.
Please keep a record of your results and discuss them with your doctor at your visits.
You may need to give yourself insulin injections to control diabetes. For some pregnant women, oral medication is recommended.
For most women, glucose levels usually return to normal after delivery. Your glucose levels will be checked to make sure that you no longer have diabetes.
The following may help prevent gestational diabetes:
Also, talk to your doctor about whether you should take probiotics to reduce your risk of gestational diabetes.
American Diabetes Association –
Gestational diabetes FAQ from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists –
Gestational diabetes. ACOG practice bulletin No. 30. Obstet Gynecol. 2001;98:525-538.
Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM). EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116237/Gestational-diabetes-mellitus-GDM. Updated July 7, 2016. Accessed September 28, 2016.
Hillier TA, Pedula KL, Vesco KK, et al. Excess gestational weight gain: modifying fetal macrosomia risk associated with maternal glucose. Obstet Gynecol. 2008;112:1007-1014.
How to treat gestational diabetes. American Diabetes Association website. Available at: http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/gestational/how-to-treat-gestational.html. Updated April 29, 2014. Accessed October 7, 2015.
2/5/2009 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116237/Gestational-diabetes-mellitus-GDM: Cheng YW, Chung JH, Kurbisch-Block I, Inturrisi M, Shafer S, Caughey AB. Gestational weight gain and gestational diabetes mellitus: perinatal outcomes.
Obstet Gynecol. 2008;112:1015-1022.
4/1/2011 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116237/Gestational-diabetes-mellitus-GDM: Dhulkotia JS, Ola B, Fraser R, Farrell T. Oral hypoglycemic agents vs insulin in management of gestational diabetes: a systematic review and metaanalysis.
Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2010;203(5):457.e1-9.
3/17/2014 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116237/Gestational-diabetes-mellitus-GDM: Luoto R, Laitinen K, et al. Impact of material probiotic-supplemented dietary counselling on pregnancy outcome and prenatal and postnatal growth: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Br J Nutr. 2010. Jun;103(12):1792-1799.
6/9/2014 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116237/Gestational-diabetes-mellitus-GDM: Qin JZ, Pang LH, et al. Obstetric complications in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Reprod Biol Endocrinol. 2013;11:56
10/13/2014 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116237/Gestational-diabetes-mellitus-GDM: Zhang C, Tobias DK, et al. Adherence to healthy lifestyle and risk of gestational diabetes mellitus: prospective cohort study. BMJ. 2014 Sep 30;349.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
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