Gestational Diabetes and Ketones
To help you manage your gestational diabetes, you may be asked by your doctor to check for the presence of ketones in urine upon awakening in the morning.
You ought to know about ketones, glucose and insulin if you suffer from gestational diabetes. When food enters your body, it is digested to provide nutrients and energy. To provide energy, there must be carbohydrates which is changed into glucose during digestion. Your fetus and you need the glucose to provide energy and growth. For the glucose to be converted into energy, insulin is needed to send the glucose into the cells. Your pancreas produces this hormone called insulin.
During pregnancy, the hormones produced by your body can affect insulin’s ability to perform its function of getting glucose into the cells, if you have gestational diabetes. Then, if there is not enough insulin produced to counter the interference of these hormones, there will be an increase of blood glucose. Without sufficient insulin, the glucose cannot be used by the body. Unable to use the glucose for energy, the body resorts to fats. When your body makes use of its own body fats for energy, the process produces some waste products called ketones. The ketones in the bloodstream are then sent out to the urine, explained the pediatrics and maternity clinical manager, Cleveland Clinic Home Care, Louise McDonald, RN.
What have Ketones to do with Gestational Diabetes?
The aim of treating gestational diabetes is to control the levels of blood glucose. To achieve such control, exercise, diet and, sometimes, insulin are used. The presence of ketones in the urine is a sign of warning that your management of blood glucose is not good enough.
- High blood glucose.
If the carbohydrates in your diet are too much for your insulin to manage, there will be an increase in blood glucose. There is danger for your fetus and you. The fetus will grow too fast when there is excessive glucose supply to your fetus. This condition is what is known as macrosomia which can be a problem at the time of delivery.
- Low blood glucose.
Your own fat can also be used as an energy source when your blood glucose level is extremely low. This may occur at night when there is long stretch of no intake of food or when you miss a meal. For some pregnant women who are obese, there may be insufficient glucose from a diet which contains not enough calories. When your fetus and you are both not obtaining sufficient energy from your meals, ketones may be present in the urine.
- The effect of ketones on your baby.
A number of studies have indicated the possibility that the growing brain cells of the fetus can be affected by the presence of extra ketones, leading to future learning problems due to a lower IQ. However, other studies have not been able to support such findings. Nevertheless, most doctor decided to play safe by checking for ketones and eliminating them by the use of medication or adjustments to diet.
What are Ketones? – Video Guide
When and How to Check for Ketones in your urine.
The best time for pregnant women suffering from gestational diabetes to check for ketones is the thing in the morning to find out if the fetus has sufficient nutrition during the night. The test is simple and fast, with a dip-and-read ketone test strip available from any pharmacy. Collect the morning urine and dip the strip into it. The presence of ketones will be indicated by a change in color of the strip.
Since strips for ketones testing are moisture and light sensitive, it is advisable to store them in an opaque container with a good lid. Strips which have passed their expiry date should not be used, advised McDonald.
You have to get your blood glucose well controlled, if gestational diabetes is your problem. To know how well you are managing your gestational diabetes, checking for ketones is a reliable way. Having your urine contain ketones once in a while is normal but always inform your healthcare team of any signs of ketones so that they can help you to have your blood glucose within the safe range. Making sure that there are no ketones in your urine is one way to have your fetus and you safe.