Gestational diabetes is a type of condition that occurs during pregnancy and is the result of pregnancy-induced hormonal changes. In short, the placenta produces hormones that make a pregnant woman’s cells less sensitive to insulin, which may lead to high blood sugar. This condition can have a cascading effect on a woman’s health, including high blood pressure and preeclampsia—two conditions that can lead to serious health consequences for mom and baby.
Though gestational diabetes typically goes away after childbirth, both mother and child have an increased risk of type 2 diabetes as they get older. Every year between two and ten percent of pregnancies in the United States test positive for gestational diabetes.
Who is at risk for gestational diabetes?
While any woman can develop gestational diabetes, some women are more likely to develop it, such as:
- Women older than 25
- Women who are overweight or not physically active
- Women with high blood pressure or heart disease
- Women with a family or personal history of the disease
- Women diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Women with prediabetes
What are the risks of gestational diabetes?
If left untreated, gestational diabetes can cause serious pregnancy complications for the woman, including:
- Cesarean birth (C-section)
- High blood pressure and preeclampsia
- Macrosomia (enlarged fetus)
- Perinatal depression (postpartum depression)
- Premature birth
- Still birth
Gestational diabetes can also lead to health complications for the baby, such as:
- Respiratory distress syndrome (breathing problems)
- Jaundice (underdeveloped or other kidney problems)
- Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
- Shoulder dystocia (birth injury to the baby)
- Obesity later in life
- Type 2 diabetes later in life
If you have a family or personal history of gestational diabetes, it’s important to seek specialized obstetric care throughout your pregnancy to ensure your health and the health of your baby. Our practice is recognized as the largest and most experienced women’s healthcare provider in the Mobile, Alabama area. Call us at 251-344-5900.