A few weeks ago I started writing on Pregnancy under 365 days of healthy living .I have stopped that topic for the time being as I have chosen Diabetes management / diet as the topic for this edition of blogging marathon.But the topic I am going to discuss today falls under pregnancy and diabetes!
Gestational Diabetes is a condition where diabetes is diagnosed during pregnancy. Though it does not occur in all pregnant women, the small number that is being diagnosed is steadily increasing.Pregnant women who are not diabetic before conception but have a high blood sugar level during pregnancy are said to have Gestational Diabetes.
The reason / cause for this is still under debate but one fact is that it is due to the placental hormones.The placenta is the organ that connects the growing baby in the womb with the mother and it facilitates the transfer of nutrients, elimination of waste , gas exchange via the mothers blood supply.This placenta produces hormones that helps in the development of the baby.In some women these hormones block the action of insulin.This condition is called ‘ Insulin resistance‘ ,which means there is insulin being produced by the pancreas but the road for its entry into the cells is blocked.
Women under risk
- A family history of Diabetes
- Those who had a previous history of gestational diabetes.
- A previous pregnancy that resulted in a baby with high birth weight
- Ethnic background- women from South Asia,Afro-American origin,Native Americans, Hispanics are at high risk.
- Overweight / obese women.
- Women above 25 years of age
It is a common practice in hospitals to screen the pregnant women during pregnancy to check for gestational diabetes.Mostly the screening is done between 24th – 28th weeks or around the 6th month of pregnancy.The time for screening may change from country to country or with the practitioner.No matter when the tests are done,it is around this time[24th – 28th weeks] that the placenta starts producing the hormones that block the insulin from entering the cells.
Once diagnosed this condition must be treated.Though gestational diabetes does not cause any birth defects in the baby, it can hurt the baby and the mother is other ways.As mentioned earlier, the blood sugar in the mothers blood stream is in excess.The pancreas works hard to produce more insulin but due to insulin resistance nothing happens to change the situation.The insulin from the mothers body does not cross over to the fetus through the placenta.The excess sugar does cross over and there is a rise in the blood sugar in the baby’s blood stream.So the little ones pancreas also work harder to produce extra insulin.The extra sugar gets converted into fat.This leads to a condition called ‘Macrosomia‘ or in other words- ‘fat baby’.
Macrosomic babies are at a greater risk of other health problems.As soon as they are born , they make experience low blood sugar levels as the pancreas have been producing extra insulin.There may also be breathing problems.When they are born with excess insulin grow up, they are at a higher risk for developing type II Diabetes.Please note that all these happen only if the mother is not treated properly during pregnancy and it does not occur in all the women who have gestational diabetes.
In tomorrow’s post, I will write about how gestational diabetes affects the mother[pregnant woman] , the diagnostic tests and treatment for gestational diabetes…..
Check out the topics and the marathoners for this week….