Some pregnant women are, usually around 28th week of their pregnancy, diagnosed with gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes is defined as a medical condition in which a woman, that hasn’t been previously diagnosed with diabetes, meets the diagnostic criteria for this disease. The woman will typically exhibit symptoms such as high blood glucose levels, which start during the third trimester of pregnancy. For most of the women, this condition is diagnosed by regular screening during the pregnancy, when high levels of blood sugar are measured. Otherwise, the condition doesn’t have easily noticeable symptoms. It is estimated that somewhere between 3 and 10 percent of all pregnant women suffer from gestational diabetes.
Scientists are not completely sure about what exactly causes gestational diabetes in some women. Normally, the body digests the food to produce glucose, or sugar, which is carried throughout the bloodstream to feed the living cells. The pancreas, a glandular organ situated in stomach, produces insulin which aids in the process of feeding the cells. Insulin is actually a hormone that aids in the process of transferring the sugar from bloodstream to the body’s cells, to be used as energy.
Body of a pregnant woman grows a placenta to connect the baby’s body with the blood supply of nutrients. The growing placenta also releases different kinds of hormones which may also interfere with the insulin, raising the overall levels of blood sugar.
Women diagnosed with gestational diabetes should pay very much attention to their health. As their placenta grows the placental hormones may trigger a rise in blood sugar to such a level that it can severely affect the mother’s health as well as the health of the baby. The main risks associated with gestational diabetes are the possibility of growth abnormalities and chemical imbalances in a newborn. These babies often require a special care in a neonatal intensive care unit. These babies are often large at birth, which may result in complications in a vaginal delivery. Babies also have increased risk of low blood glucose, jaundice, high red blood cell mass, low calcium and low magnesium. Children of women with gestational diabetes are also at higher risk of congenital malformations. These patients are also at increased risk of going into labor earlier and delivering the baby before it is expected. These babies may also have respiratory distress syndrome, which makes their breathing difficult. Moreover, these babies have a higher risk of developing obesity and type 2 diabetes later in life. Mothers are also at an increased risk of developing diabetes.