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Diabetes in pregnancy: Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

About diabetes in pregnancy

Women with diabetes need to take special care when they become pregnant. There is also a certain form of diabetes called ‘gestational diabetes’ in which diabetes is diagnosed for the first time during pregnancy. Uncontrolled diabetes during pregnancy can adversely affect the developing foetus.

Diabetes in pregnancy: Incidence, age and sex

Gestational diabetes affects 4 percent of all pregnancies. The prevalence of diabetes increases with increasing maternal age.

Signs and symptoms of diabetes in pregnancy: Diagnosis

There are usually no signs and symptoms of diabetes in pregnancy unless the sugars are very high. Gestational diabetes is usually detected during routine screenings of pregnant women. An oral glucose tolerance test is recommended at 28th week of pregnancy to establish the diagnosis of diabetes.

Causes and prevention of diabetes in pregnancy

The exact cause of gestational diabetes is not known. There are certain hormones secreted from the placenta which block the action of mother’s insulin in her body. Certain factors like obesity and family history of diabetes increase the chances of getting diabetes during pregnancy.

Diabetes in pregnancy: Complications

Poor control of diabetes in pregnancy may affect the baby. The excess glucose in the mother’s blood goes through the placenta leading to high blood glucose levels in the baby. Consequently, the baby’s pancreas makes extra insulin which leads to abnormally increased size of the baby called ‘macrosomia’ resulting in problems during birth. They can also have very low blood glucose levels at birth and are also at higher risk of breathing problems. Such babies have higher chances of obesity in childhood and type 2 diabetes in the future.

Women with gestational diabetes are at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes and should undergo regular screening.

Diabetes in pregnancy: Treatment

Maintaining strict control of blood glucose levels is of prime importance in avoiding complications and having a successful pregnancy. The treatment involves healthy balanced diet under the supervision of a nutritionist, regular physical activity and drugs, if needed. Both oral drugs as well as insulin are effective in controlling blood sugar levels. Regular self-monitoring of blood glucose is necessary to achieve the goals.

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