What is gestational diabetes?
Gestational diabetes is the form of diabetes occurring in pregnant women. This condition usually develops in the third trimester, around 24th week of pregnancy and disappears after child birth. In India, 4-21% of pregnant women are found to have gestational diabetes.
In this condition, the blood sugar levels in the mother become too high during the second half of pregnancy and disappear after child birth. When gestational diabetes is uncontrolled or treated, the sugar levels not only increase in the mother but also the baby and cause harm to both.
Complications that may affect the baby include:
- Larger body than normal – difficult for delivery and harmful for the baby
- Sometimes jaundice – seen as yellowing of skin and white of eyes
- Hypoglycaemia or very low blood sugar right after birth
- Breathing problems
- Higher chances of death
- Increased risk of becoming overweight and developing type II diabetes in future
In addition to the above risks in babies, women with gestational diabetes will be at risk for:
- Developing gestational diabetes in the subsequent pregnancies
- Type II diabetes in later stages of life
- Having high blood pressure and too much protein in the urine, a condition called preeclampsia
- Having caesarean surgery to deliver the baby because the baby may be large
- Becoming depressed
Therefore, along with the usual healthcare delivered by the obstetrician or gynaecologist, pregnant women with gestational diabetes will require other healthcare professionals including a diabetologist, dietician, diabetes educator to effectively manage their health and well-being.
If a woman already has type I or type II diabetes, it is essential to discuss with the doctor before becoming pregnant, as poorly controlled blood sugar levels can seriously impact the baby’s health.