Gestational diabetes

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Gestational diabetes (or gestational diabetes mellitusGDM) is a condition in which females who previously were not having diabetes exhibit higher than normal levels of blood sugar while pregnant. The illness usually shows few signs/symptoms [1] . It is usually found during pregnancy medical checks. Up to 16% of pregnant women are affected by GDM[2]. Pregnant women with family history of having diabetes and ethnic background have higher chances of getting the disease.

Gestational diabetes is caused when a pregnant woman's body does not produce enough insulin, leading to higher than normal blood sugar levels. Some women with GDM are treated with drugs. However, healthy eating [3]and regular exercise can help to lower the chances of getting GDM.

It is still unclear what causes gestational diabetes. It may be due to the action of pregnancy hormones, blocking the action of insulin to its receptors. This prevents cells to take in glucose properly. This causes sugar to remain in blood, where it continues to rise. [4]

Babies born to mothers with gestational diabetes can have many problems, such as, being too large (which may make childbirth difficult), lower than normal blood glucose, or being born too early. More serious problems include brain problems or dead before birth.[5] In addition, women with gestational diabetes have higher risk of getting Type 2 diabetes (or, in fewer cases, Type 1 diabetes) after pregnancy.

In most cases, children belonging to mothers having gestational diabetes are at higher risk of childhood obesity and Type 2 diabetes later in life. This can be stopped through healthy eating and regular exercise. [6][7]

Risk factors[8][7][4][change | change source]

Common risk factors for developing gestational diabetes are:

Standard Medical Test[change | change source]

A basic test is carried out during the first visit to the doctor during pregnancy. The doctor or nurse will ask certain questions to check if the mother is at high risk of getting gestational diabetes.

Woman found with higher chance of getting GDM will be offered a blood glucose test. This allows the doctor to check the correct sugar levels in the mother's blood.

Prevention[change | change source]

Light exercise and stop smoking during pregnancy can greatly help pregnant women to avoid getting GDM.[9] [10]

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