Aspirus Health shares risks of gestational diabetes

If you are pregnant—or planning on becoming pregnant—it's important to know the facts about gestational diabetes.

 Aspirus Health experts share the following key points for understanding gestational diabetes.

1. Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that occurs only during pregnancy. It means that a woman's blood glucose (sugar) is too high.

2. The disease is usually diagnosed in the 24th to 28th week of pregnancy using a blood test.

“Women who are at a high risk for diabetes, such as those who have diabetes in an immediate family member including a mother, father, or sibling with diabetes, maybe tested sooner,” said Solomon Agbroko, MD. “You can lower your likelihood of developing gestational diabetes before you become pregnant by eating healthy foods and keeping active.”

3. High blood sugar levels during pregnancy can cause problems for a baby, such as:

  • Being born too early.
  • Weighing too much.
  • Having low blood sugar right after birth.
  • Having breathing problems.

    4. Gestational diabetes can also cause problems for a woman during pregnancy, such as:

  • Labor difficulties.
  • Cesarean delivery.
  • Heavy bleeding after delivery.
  • Preeclampsia, or dangerously high blood pressure. Preeclampsia can lead to the baby being delivered right away, even if it's not fully grown.

    “Preeclampsia sometimes develops without any symptoms. Monitoring blood pressure is an important part of one’s prenatal care,” said Dr. Agbroko. “The first sign of preeclampsia is commonly a rise in blood pressure. “Left untreated, preeclampsia can lead to serious complications for mom and baby.

    5. You're at increased risk for developing gestational diabetes if you:

  • Are overweight.
  • Had gestational diabetes during a prior pregnancy.
  • Have a parent or sibling with type 2 diabetes.
  • Have prediabetes. This means you have high blood sugar but not high enough to be called diabetes.
  • Are African American, American Indian, Asian American, Latina or Pacific Islander American.
  • Have a hormone disorder called polycystic ovary syndrome.

6. If you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, a healthy eating plan can be established. The plan helps you control your blood sugar, manage your weight and control heart disease risk factors including high blood pressure.

7. Gestational diabetes goes away after childbirth. However, you are at higher risk for developing regular diabetes later in life once you've had gestational diabetes. A glucose test will be performed shortly after delivery to confirm that the gestational diabetes has resolved.