As the name implies, gestational diabetes develops during gestation, pregnancy. Diabetes of any kind affects how your cells use sugar. In gestational diabetes the high blood sugar created by the condition can affect your pregnancy and your baby’s health.
We test for gestational diabetes at Women’s Health Medical Group.
What causes gestational diabetes?
It’s a mystery why some women develop gestational diabetes, but it’s not rare. Research shows that around 18 percent of all pregnancies may be affected by it. The cause comes in changes in the way your body processes glucose during pregnancy.
When your body digests food, it produces sugar/glucose that enters your bloodstream. In response, your pancreas produces insulin, which helps move the glucose from your bloodstream into your body’s cells where the glucose is used for energy.
When you’re pregnant, the placenta produces more and more insulin-counteracting hormones. When you have gestational diabetes, the placental hormones provoke a rise in blood sugar to levels that can affect the welfare of your developing baby. Gestational diabetes usually develops during the last half of pregnancy.
How it can affect your baby
Gestational diabetes increases various risks for your baby:
- Excessive birth weight — Extra glucose in your bloodstream crosses the placenta, which triggers your baby’s pancreas to make extra insulin. This can cause the baby to grow too large.
- Early birth and respiratory distress syndrome — A mother’s high blood sugar may increase her risk of early labor and delivering her baby before the due date. Babies born early may experience respiratory distress syndrome, where breathing is difficult.
- Low blood sugar — Because their insulin production is high, babies of mothers with gestational diabetes sometimes develop low blood sugar. In the extreme, this can provoke seizures in the baby.
- Type 2 diabetes later in life — Babies of mothers who have gestational diabetes have a higher risk for obesity and type 2 diabetes during their life.
At Women’s Health Medical Group, we test your blood sugar for gestational diabetes as part of our extensive obstetric services. Call us at (817) 346-5336 to make your appointment.
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