Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM)
When a pregnant woman is diagnosed with diabetes, it is called gestational diabetes or GDM (Gestational Diabetes Mellitus). This condition occurs in about 4 % of pregnant American women which is approximately 135,000 cases per year. Having gestational diabetes(GDM) carries a 50 % risk of developing type 2 diabetes in later years. Some of the gestational diabetes cases do eventually get Type 2 diabetes and, therefore, it is advisable for such women to have regular checkups for diabetes.
Diabetes during Pregnancy.
Gestational diabetes, just like Type 2 diabetes, is due to insulin resistance. In insulin resistance, the patient”s body can still produce insulin. However, there is the problem of the insulin being resisted by the cells, either not allowing it to attach to the cells or not answering to its signals for sugar to enter the cells. It could also be because the insulin is incapable of performing its function.
Certain hormones, such as human placental lactogen, estrogen, and cortisol, are produced a pregnant woman’s placenta. These hormones remove the effects of insulin on blood glucose and so that is the reason for blood sugar levels to go up after each meal. Such a rise in blood sugar is not serious for most women. However, for some whose insulin resistance is high, the problem gets out of control and leads to gestational diabetes.
What is Gestational Diabetes ? – Video Guide
Dangers Faced by Mother and Baby.
High levels of blood sugar after a fast can indicate the possibility of an unplanned preterm birth. As a result of gestational diabetes(GDM), a child can develop big baby syndrome (or macrosomia). Delivery of a child with macrosomia can be difficult and the possibility of injury during birth is always present. (see How Gestational Diabetes Affects Your Baby)
Gestational diabetes(GDM) can lead to a slower development of the fetus’ lungs. As a result, there is greater possibility of developing a condition known as respiratory distress syndrome, in which insufficient surfactant is produced. With insufficient surfactant to have the lungs’ air sacs expand, there will be breathing difficulty after birth. (see Beyond Pregnancy)
Those at Risk.
The risk factors for developing gestational diabetes are age, weight, ethnicity, and medical background. You are faced with a greater risk if even one factor given below applies to you.
- You come from a particular ethnic group that is known to have a higher risk. Groups known to have such a high risk are Pacific Islanders, Hispanics, African Americans, Native Americans and , Asian Americans.
- Having a BMI or body mass index of higher than 25, an indication of excessive body fat.
- You have a relative of your parents’ generation with diabetes.
- You are above the age of 25.
- You already have gestational diabetes(GDM) or prediabetes background.
- You have experienced PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome).
- One of your babies weigh not less than 9 pounds.
Pregnant women can opt to forego gestational diabetes (GDM) tests if none of the factors above apply to them.