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Gestational Diabetes Causes, Risk Factors, Symptoms And Diagnosis

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Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes is diabetes occurred in some women during pregnancy due to failure of insulin secretion in the body, insulin needed to maintain blood glucose (blood sugar amount) in the normal range. Blood sugar levels generally increase between week 24 and 28 of pregnancy. Gestational diabetes is different from other types of diabetes, in that it occurs during pregnancy and disappears after giving birth. Other types of diabetes, type I and type II have no known definitive cure yet.

This type of diabetes is a risk factor for the emergence hypertension during pregnancy. The child may have an increased risk of being overweight at birth, which complicates a natural birth. Gestational diabetes during pregnancy increases the risk of diabetes at the subsequent pregnancy, and the risk of developing type II diabetes less than 5 years after birth.

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational Diabetes Causes

Gestational diabetes often occurs due to the fact that the pancreas does not secrete an optimal amount of  insulin. During pregnancy the placenta secretes hormones that block the activity of insulin therefore causes an increased need for insulin to keep blood sugar levels within normal limits. As the pregnancy evolves several hormones are produced to block insulin and the mother will become insulin-resistant.

Gestational Diabetes Risk Factors

Women at high risk of developing gestational diabetes are those who have had gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy: 30% to 60% of women who had gestational diabetes develop diabetes again when pregnant,

  • Overweight women who gave birth to an overweight child and had an increased insulin need during a previous pregnancy have higher risk of developing diabetes
  • Women who have in their family a parent or a brother or sister with type II diabetes
  • Women from high risk ethnic groups: Latin American, African, Asian;
  • Women who have more than 25 years when they become pregnant: the risk increases by 4% each year, every year after the age of 25.
  • Those that are under the age of 25 years but are overweight
  • Women who had a baby weighing more than 4 kilograms or more than 2 pounds at birth
  • Women with polycystic ovary syndrome: Although it is difficult for a woman to become pregnant with this disease, the risk of developing diabetes during pregnancy is higher than in other women;
  • Women who smoke.

Other factors that indicate an undiagnosed gestational diabetes are:

  • Children with high birth weight (more than 4 kilograms)
  • Parent with hypertension
  • Multiple miscarriages in history
  • Child dead at birth without a specific cause

Gestational Diabetes Symptoms

Gestational diabetes symptoms are represented by thirst , frequent urination, unusual hunger sensation, blurred vision. Gestational diabetes symptoms may or may not be present. Sometimes symptoms are not noticed, as symptoms as frequent urination and increased hunger frequently occur during a normal pregnancy. If gestational diabetes symptoms are present, it is a posibility that diabetes was present and undiagnosed before pregnancy.

Gestational Diabetes Diagnosis

During pregnancy a woman diagnosed with diabetes, a series of tests are necessary to monitor glucose levels and the evolution of pregnancy:

  • Use a glucose level monitor at home 1-2 hours after the main meals
  • Ultrasound is used to estimate the gestational age of the fetus, the fetus weight, health evaluation and possible fetal abnormalities, ultrasound does not accurately estimated weight of the child in recent months
  • Blood pressure and urinary protein tests (routine tests) for which all pregnant women visit the doctor
  • Glycosylated hemoglobin determination, sometimes each month in women with gestational diabetes, glycated hemoglobin is an indicator of average blood glucose over the past 2-3 months, this test is sometimes is used for woman who are suspected to have diabetes before they become pregnant

Tests during labor – during labor and after birth babies born from mothers with diabetes are monitored closely:

  • Fetal heart rate monitoring
  • Mother blood glucose is monitored every hour because it may fluctuate highly and can have higher values than those accepted as normal.