Pregnancy diabetes

Pregnancy diabetes

What is pregnancy diabetes?

Pregnancy diabetes is a type of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy and usually disappears just after delivery. The disease is most common among women who are overweight or have a family history of diabetes. 

What causes pregnancy diabetes?

Diabetes occurs if the body is not able to produce the increased amounts of insulin required by pregnant women. After delivery, the need for insulin falls back to normal levels and the diabetes will usually disappear. However, there is then a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life as the production of insulin decreases with increasing age.

What are the symptoms of pregnancy diabetes?

Many pregnant women do not notice any symptoms and the disorder is usually detected by screening. However, you may experience:

  • Thirst.
  • Weight loss.
  • Excessive eating.
  • Increased urination, urinating in large quantities.
  • Fatigue.

Which women are screened for diabetes pregnancy?

Pregnant women are screened for pregnancy diabetes if they:

  • Have a family history of type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
  • Have previously given birth to very large children (weighing more than nine pounds).
  • Were overweight prior to pregnancy.
  • Had a previous miscarriage.
  • Are older than 35 years.
  • Have been found to have glucose in their urine.

What are the risks of pregnancy diabetes?

If you do plan your pregnancy and follow your doctor’s advice during pregnancy, you have a good chance of delivering a healthy baby. The following risks are associated with untreated pregnancy diabetes:

  • High sugar levels in your blood, which can cause the baby to grow too big before birth — very large babies tend to have more problems before and after birth.
  • Birth defects, such as problems with the heart, kidney, or spine.
  • High blood pressure during the pregnancy (pre-eclampsia), which can cause problems for both you and the baby.
  • Preterm labour (before 37 weeks of pregnancy).
  • After delivery the baby may have low blood sugar problems (hypoglycaemia) or trouble breathing because the lungs are not fully developed.

How is pregnancy diabetes treated?

Your doctor will advise you to follow a diabetes diet that is low in fat and rich in carbohydrates and show you how to check your sugar levels at home. It may also be necessary to take insulin to control your sugar level.

What can I do?

What is the outlook?

For most women pregnancy diabetes disappears after birth, although there is a risk that you will develop diabetes later in life. If you became diabetic during one pregnancy, then you are more likely to develop diabetes in future pregnancies, so you should be tested early for diabetes in the next pregnancy.

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