Gestational diabetes – A precursor to diabetes
What is gestational diabetes and who is at risk of getting this disease?
We often think of chronic diseases as diseases we obtain as we get older. But, many times chronic diseases have precursors to them. Take for example, gestational diabetes. According to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, between two and 10 percent of U.S. pregnancies are affected by gestational diabetes every year. So what is gestational diabetes and who is at risk of getting this disease?
Gestational diabetes is a type of high blood sugar that pregnant women get. If a woman gets high blood sugar while she is pregnant and has never had high blood sugar before, then she has gestational diabetes. This is a concern for pregnant women because it can cause health problems for both the mother and the baby. The body produces a hormone called insulin which moves the sugar or glucose out of the blood into the cells of the body. In pregnant women who have gestational diabetes, the glucose can’t get into the cells, so the amount of sugar in the blood increases to high levels.
Who is at risk of getting gestational diabetes? The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Some says that some basic risk factors include: Women who are overweight or very overweight; women who are related to someone with diabetes; women who are pregnant and are over 25-years-old; women who have had a large baby weighing more than nine pounds or had a stillbirth or miscarriage; women with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or heart disease; and women with prediabetes or problems with insulin or blood sugar.
Gestational diabetes is treatable. Keeping blood sugar levels under control and following the treatment plan outlined by your doctor is the best way to assure positive outcomes for both the mother and baby. Most of the time, the gestational diabetes goes away after the baby is born. Once a mother has gestational diabetes, regular testing of your blood glucose is important to monitor for future development of diabetes. Eating a healthy diet and getting regular physical activity will help to prevent the development of diabetes as you age.
For more information on how to manage your chronic disease, go to the Michigan State University Extension website and search “events” to locate a chronic disease self-management program, called PATH (Personal Action toward Health) near you.