Stay away from gestational diabetes!

Nov 3, 2017

Introduction

Every year, 14th November marks the World Diabetes Day (WDD) and this year it goes with theme “Women and Diabetes”. So, lets together we understand more about gestational diabetes in women.

What is gestational diabetes?

One in seven births is affected by gestational diabetes. It is a common complication of pregnancy; usually symptom free and diagnosed during routine screening. Besides, it typically occurs around the 24th to 28th week of pregnancy and it normally goes off after the baby is born.

What is the cause of gestational diabetes?

Gestational diabetes is due to insulin deficiency and insulin resistance. During pregnancy, the placenta would produce hormones that help the baby to grow and develop. However, some of these hormones prevent insulin from working the way it is. Normally, insulin helps the body to control blood glucose level. Nevertheless, if the body cannot produce sufficient amount of insulin, the blood glucose levels will rise. In order to keep the blood glucose levels in the normal range, the pregnant women need to produce 2 to 3 times higher than the normal amount of insulin.

How is gestational diabetes being diagnosed?

Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT) is used to detect gestational diabetes. After fasting for 8-12 hours, a blood sample is taken. The pregnant woman is then required to drink 75g of glucose solution and later, a blood sample is taken again after 2 hours. If the blood glucose is above the normal value, thus the pregnant woman is diagnosed with gestational diabetes.

Why does gestational diabetes need to be treated?

Gestational diabetes does not cause birth defects to the unborn child. However, untreated gestational diabetes can lead to serious short-term complications for both mother and child. The complications that might appear include pre-eclampsia, jaundice, pre-term birth, large babies, stillbirths, and newborn deaths.

What are the long-term effects of gestational diabetes?

Gestational diabetes is also associated with an increased risk of both mother and child developing type 2 diabetes in later life. Approximately 50% of women with gestational diabetes will develop type 2 diabetes within 5 years of pregnancy. Children born to women with gestational diabetes are up to 8 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes and obesity in their teens or early adulthood.

How to manage gestational diabetes?

For a healthy tomorrow, let’s manage the blood glucose level, starting from today! The main aim of gestational diabetes management is to maintain the blood sugar levels within the normal level:  7.0 mmol/l during fasting. Along with that, you can manage gestational diabetes by doing this;

 

  1. Healthy diet: Cut down the carbohydrate consumption such as rice, cake, and sweet tea. Take more fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
  2. Exercise: Being pregnant is not an excuse to be inactive. Engage with mild exercises such as gardening and walking. Exercise facilitates to improve body’s ability to utilize sugar.
  3. Medication: When both diet and exercise are not working, insulin injections are needed to lower your blood sugar levels.
References
 
  1. Clausen TD, Mathiesen ER, Hansen T, et al. High prevalence of type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes in adult offspring of women with gestational diabetes mellitus or type 1 diabetes the role of intrauterine hyperglycemia. Diabetes care. 2008;31(2):340–346
  2. Hod M, Kapur A, Sacks DA, et al. The International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) Initiative on gestational diabetes mellitus: A pragmatic guide for diagnosis, management, and care. International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics. 2015;131:S173
  3. Kim C, Newton KM, Knopp RH. Gestational Diabetes and the Incidence of Type 2 Diabetes: A Systematic Review. Diabetes Care 25, 2002
  4. International Diabetes Federation. 2015. IDF DIABETES ATLAS – 7TH EDITION. [Retrieved from http://www.diabetesatlas.org/key-messages.html , 11 October 2017].
  5. National Diabetes Service Scheme. 2015. Gestational Diabetes Caring for yourself and your baby. [Retrieved from https://www.diabetesqld.org.au/media/33447/gestational_diabetes_booklet.pdf , 11 October 2017].
  6. Ministry of Health Malaysia. 2017. Diabetes in Pregnancy. [Retrieved from http://www.myhealth.gov.my/en/diabetes-in-pregnancy/ , 11 October 2017].