Each year, 6-9% of pregnant women in the U.S. develop gestational diabetes. Nationally, there has been an increase in gestational diabetes, but annual diagnoses only equate to about 200,000 cases a year.
What is Gestational Diabetes?
Gestational diabetes occurs when the body either can’t make enough insulin or use it sufficiently during pregnancy. An important distinction between this and other types of diabetes is that it’s diagnosed in women who did not have diabetes before they became pregnant. Even so, the health concerns are serious. In addition to increasing the risk of delivery complications, gestational diabetes can increase a woman’s likelihood of developing Type 2 diabetes after pregnancy.
What causes it?
Risk factors include:
- A family history of Type 2 diabetes
- Age 25 or older
- African American, Asian American, Hispanic/Latina or Pacific Islander American race
- Current diagnosis of prediabetes or polycystic ovarian syndrome
- History of gestational diabetes or giving birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds
Does the condition go away after the baby is born?
Good news. For most women, gestational diabetes goes away after pregnancy. That said, it is possible to have gone into pregnancy with pre-existing and undetected diabetes. This makes it important to seek follow-up care after the pregnancy.
Making a Diagnosis
Testing for gestational diabetes is part of standard care during pregnancy. Your OB-GYN will schedule the test when you are 24-28 weeks pregnant.
A common test, called an oral glucose tolerance test, measures your blood sugar after fasting and ingesting a sweet beverage containing glucose. In some instances, a physician will first order a glucose challenge test, which doesn’t require fasting.
Healthy Pregnancy Tips
If you’re diagnosed with gestational diabetes, proper diabetes education and counseling can help mitigate associated risks. By emphasizing healthy eating and exercise, as well as proper blood glucose monitoring, diabetes counseling can keep both mom and baby healthy.
- Work in 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity five days a week
- Don’t skip meals, and be sure to eat a good breakfast
- Lower your carbohydrate intake