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Women with Gestational Diabetes at Risk for Heart Disease

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With modern technology comes diseases that are precipitated by sedentary lifestyle and junk food. One of these diseases is diabetes mellitus. Pregnant women are also at risk for a type of diabetes known as gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes is a medical condition which occurs when a pregnant women has high levels of glucose in her blood. This elevation in blood sugar levels is caused by the fact that the pregnant woman cannot produce enough insulin in her body because of glucose load which are 2 to 3 times than the normal.

 Gestational Diabetes

 The rise in blood glucose among pregnant women is due to the fact that pregnancy causes certain hormones in the placenta to be released in the blood. This leads to increase in blood glucose levels. Also, the growth demands of the fetus also increase the pregnant woman's demand for insulin.

Gestational diabetes is distinguished from type 1 and type 2 diabetes in that it is only temporary and usually disappears after pregnancy. However, there are a few studies which have shown that women with gestational diabetes have a certain risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the near future. Thus experts advise that women with gestational diabetes should be tested for diabetes every year after they have given birth.

Women with gestational diabetes need to be compliant with their insulin shots. This is because they need more than the usual amount of insulin for their needs. Insulin is naturally produced by the pancreas and is tasked with the movement of blood glucose from the bloodstream to the cells. If insulin is inadequate in the body, blood glucose levels may elevate and may cause harmful effects to mother and the baby.

Increased blood glucose levels in the maternal body can increase your chances if having caesarean section for delivering your baby. It can also increase your risk of having toxaemia of pregnancy, pregnancy induced hypertension or preeclampsia. It can also increase your risk of developing urinary tract infections while pregnant. The baby born to a woman with gestational hypertension also has certain risks. Babies who are born to women with gestational diabetes often are too large or are too fat at birth and pose serious problems during delivery and after their birth. During their delivery, these babies may have their shoulders dislocated during delivery because they cannot fit very well in the birth canal. These babies may also have seriously low blood sugar levels after birth. The baby has been used to a very high level of glucose in the placenta and has also produced its high levels of insulin against the high load of glucose. After birth, the baby is separated from the placenta and this supply of glucose suddenly stops, thus causing the blood glucose levels to fall low due to the action of insulin. Other problems include newborn jaundice, low levels of calcium in the blood and respiratory distress syndrome.

Not every woman is at risk for gestational diabetes. Thos who are at risk for acquiring it include those with a family history of type 2 diabetes, those who had a history of gestational diabetes in previous pregnancies, those who have babies with birth defects, those who are overweight or obese, those who are over the age of 30, those who have previous histories of stillbirth or spontaneous miscarriages, those who have previous histories of delivering large babies, and those with a history of pregnancy-induced high blood pressure, urinary tract infections or polyhydramnios or too much amniotic fluid.

Women with gestational diabetes should watch their diet careful and should have regular physical activity during pregnancy. Blood glucose levels should be monitored all throughout pregnancy.

 Gestational Diabetes and Heart Disease

 A recent study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association has shown that pregnant women are at increased risk for early heart disease when they develop gestational diabetes. This study, done within a span of 20 years, have found out that a history of gestational diabetes may be a risk factor for early atherosclerosis in women when they reach middle age. The study utilized data from 898 women, 18 to 30 years old who were part of the CARDIA study (Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults), a longitudinal analysis of women without previous heart disease or diabetes before pregnancies.

You can learn more about gestational diabetes if you read our other articles on this site.