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Gestational diabetes - glucose intolerance of pregnancy
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Gestational diabetes - glucose intolerance of pregnancy

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DIABETES AND ENDOCRINE SYSTEM

Diabetes Complications

Gestational diabetes (also called glucose intolerance of pregnancy) is a temporary condition that occurs during pregnancy. It affects two to four per cent of all pregnancies and involves an increased risk of developing diabetes for both mother and child.

 

Complications

Some women worry that having gestational diabetes will cause birth defects, but fortunately, this usually isn't the case. In general, birth defects originate during the first three months of pregnancy, whereas gestational diabetes generally doesn't develop until the second or third trimester. This means your blood sugar levels are normal during the first critical months.

The greatest risk of gestational diabetes is a baby that grows too large (macrosomia). For a full-term pregnancy, this means a birth weight of 4,500 grams (9 pounds, 14 ounces) or more. Very large babies may have difficulty during delivery and are more likely to sustain birth injuries or be born by Caesarean section. Consistently keeping your blood sugar levels within a normal range can reduce these risks.

Sometimes babies of mothers with gestational diabetes develop low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) shortly after birth. That's because they're accustomed to receiving large amounts of blood sugar from their mothers, and their own insulin production is normal. These infants should have their blood sugar levels checked regularly after delivery. They may need early feeding or even a glucose solution through an intravenous line to prevent low blood sugar.

Babies born prematurely to mothers with gestational diabetes are more likely to develop respiratory distress syndrome, a condition that makes breathing difficult. It's caused by a lack of certain substances in the lungs that help prevent the lungs from collapsing every time the baby takes a breath. Babies with respiratory distress syndrome may need help breathing until their lungs become stronger.

Jaundice — a yellowish discoloration of the skin and eyes — is another potential complication. Newborn jaundice may begin during the second or third day of life, but sometimes isn't evident until around a week after birth.

Jaundice itself isn't a disease. In most cases it occurs because a baby's liver isn't mature enough to break down a substance called bilirubin, which normally forms when the body recycles old or damaged red blood cells. Although jaundice usually isn't a cause for concern, it should be carefully monitored by your doctor.

If gestational diabetes goes undetected, a baby has an increased risk of stillbirth or death as a newborn. But monitoring your blood sugar levels and following your doctor's recommendations regarding diet and exercise will prevent most problems for your baby.

Women who have gestational diabetes in one pregnancy have a greater risk of developing it again in another pregnancy. They're also more likely to develop type 2 diabetes — a type of diabetes that's present all the time, not just during pregnancy — as they get older. In fact, more than half the women with gestational diabetes eventually develop type 2 diabetes, a serious condition that can affect nearly every organ in your body.

Many cases of diabetes can be prevented with a healthy diet and regular exercise. That's why it's important to follow your doctor's advice about diet and exercise after delivery and to have your blood sugar level checked at least once a year.

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This information is provided for general medical education purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician relative to diagnostic and treatment options of a specific patient's medical condition.
In no event will The DrEddyClinic.com be liable for any decision made or action taken in reliance upon the information provided through this web site.

 


 



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Last Modified : 03/15/08 12:25 AM