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Diabetes In Pregnancy: Have you heard about diabetes in pregnancy?

Diabetes In Pregnancy: Have you heard about diabetes in pregnancy?

Diabetes in pregnancy, also called gestational diabetes, is a condition that affects anywhere from 5-18% of the pregnant population.  Women are more likely to develop diabetes during pregnancy because the fetus and placenta produce hormones that make a pregnant woman more resistant to her own insulin.

Complications of diabetes in pregnancy include giving birth to a larger baby, low blood sugar in the neonatal period, and maternal preeclampsia.  Having a larger baby increases risk of neonatal birth injury, need for a cesarean delivery, and other birth complications including stillbirth.

Risk factors for diabetes in pregnancy include obesity, high blood pressure, a history of gestational diabetes in a prior pregnancy, a family history of type 2 diabetes, being older than 25, being of African, American Indian, Asian, Hispanic, or Pacific Islander descent, and previously giving birth to a baby weighing over nine pounds.

To screen for gestational diabetes, a blood test is performed anywhere from 24-28 weeks during pregnancy.  However, you may be screened earlier if you have risk factors.

Screening for diabetes consists of either a one or a two-hour glucose test.  If the screening test is abnormal, a second, three-hour blood test is performed to confirm the diagnosis.

Once diagnosed, gestational diabetes is initially managed with diet and exercise.  Patients meet with a diabetic educator and a nutritionist and learn to check blood sugars at home as well as learn to make healthy adaptations to diet and exercise.  If diet and exercise alone are not enough to control diabetes, insulin and/or oral medications are initiated.

Diabetes in pregnancy can be a very serious condition, but when treated appropriately and monitored closely, a healthy pregnancy is very possible.  Individuals diagnosed with diabetes in pregnancy should be screened for diabetes in the post-pregnancy state, as gestational diabetes is a risk factor for glucose intolerance outside of pregnancy.

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