One of the greatest health issues that has become more prevalent nowadays is the onset of diabetes in pregnant women. This condition is called gestational diabetes and is characterized by women without any previous medical history of diabetes developing the condition during pregnancy.
Diabetes is a condition wherein the body is unable to properly produce the hormone insulin. Insulin is essential in the regulation of blood glucose in the body. A high concentration of blood glucose in a woman is a grave health issue as the body is unable to metabolize this essential fuel for most bodily functions. Furthermore, when blood glucose levels are high, this causes many organs of the body to improperly function and may lead to other health issues such as renal disease and cardiovascular problems.
Thus when this condition appears in a pregnant woman, there are many risks that can complicate the pregnancy for both the mother and the child. For the child, when the mother is suffering from gestational diabetes, it could lead to problems such as large for the gestational age (LGA), leading to birth delivery complications. The baby may also have low blood sugar levels, which may lead to improper organ functioning and jaundice, which may be symptomatic of liver and kidney problems during infancy. As the infant grows, the child may be prone to obesity and eventual development of Type 2 diabetes.
As for the mother, having gestational diabetes can lead to eventual development of Type 2 diabetes mellitus permanently. When this occurs, the body is unable to properly metabolize blood glucose in the body leading to organ complications. Also, the mother would be prone to pre-eclampsia, which is a cardiovascular condition that can create complications to both the mother and the child.
Gestational diabetes presents itself as increased insulin resistance in the mother during pregnancy. Insulin as a hormone that assists in the metabolization of glucose by the cells and inhibiting such entry leads to cell deterioration and death. This unprocessed glucose is retained in the bloodstream leading to internal organ problems in the long run. Also, since the developing fetus feeds off the bloodstream of the now insulin resistant mother, the fetus’ development faces increased level of glucose and would need to compensate for such high levels of glucose by an increased production of insulin. When the baby is born, this heightened insulin production leads to hypoglycemia during infancy and eventually throughout the baby’s life.
There are now many ways to screen the onset of gestational diabetes in pregnant mothers. The simplest way to determine such is through blood screening of the pregnant mother regularly, especially in the third trimester of the pregnancy. This is done through fasting glucose tests or random glucose testing for the mother in order to prevent long-term health issues with the mother and the development of diabetes in the infant as they mature. While there are still no fail-safe ways to prevent gestational diabetes from occurring, the only secure way to manage the condition, if ever it presents itself is through regular check ups of both the mother and the child during the childbearing period.
For more information on gestational diabetes and diabetes in general, do visit us at Diabetes Forum.