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GESTATIONAL DIABETES

What is gestational diabetes?
What are the causes?
What are the symptoms?
How is it diagnosed?
What is the treatment?
 
Wednesday, 05 May 2010
Written by : DoctorNDTV Team
 
What is gestational diabetes?
What is gestational diabetes?Diabetes which develops just before or during a pregnancy is called gestational diabetes. Though the patient may have diabetes before the onset of the pregnancy, it is termed gestational only if it is first identified after the pregnancy has occurred. The condition occurs in roughly 4% of all pregnancies.

Gestational diabetes is usually identified during the second trimester of pregnancy. In this condition, the pregnancy hormones inhibit the action of insulin due to which the glucose produced in the body is not utilised for providing energy. The glucose level in the body increases leading to hyperglycaemia and the body tissues are deprived of energy. High blood sugar can damage the health of the fetus. Some of the complications for the baby include premature delivery, respiratory problems, congestive heart failure and decreased ability to tolerate labour.

What are the causes?
What are the causes?There are several risk factors that may predispose a woman to develop gestational diabetes. Some of them are:

  • Maternal age of over 25 years
  • Family history of diabetes, gestational or otherwise
  • Obesity
  • A previous child with birth defects or a still birth
  • Recurrent bladder or urinary tract infections
  • A prior baby weighing more than 3.75 kg.
What are the symptoms?
What are the symptoms?The condition is a difficult to diagnose since the symptoms may be vague and mild in most cases. Some of the common symptoms that may manifest themselves in varying degrees are:

  • Excessive thirst and increased urination
  • Unexplained excessive weight gain or weight loss
  • Constant fatigue and tiredness accompanied by nausea and vomiting
  • Blurred vision
How is it diagnosed?
How is it diagnosed?The main method of diagnosis of gestational diabetes is the detection of traces of glucose or high levels of urine in the blood. The specific test for diagnosis is called Oral Glucose Tolerance Test. In this test, the pregnant woman is made to drink a glucose solution and a urine test is done an hour later to check for the level of glucose in her body. The normal value of blood glucose after 8 hours of fasting is 70 to 110 mg/dl.

What is the treatment?
What is the treatment?The treatment for diabetes during pregnancy requires expert supervision and constant medical care to avoid any complications. The main treatment modality is diet modification to control the level of blood sugar. If this does not help, insulin injections may have to be given. Oral medication is not usually recommended during pregnancy.

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