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Gestational Diabetes: Watch out, to-be-mothers

Posted Feb 03 2010 5:11am

There is no question that diabetes is a serious ailment, which is the condition that causes the body to not produce insulin or in other cases, not respond properly to insulin. In visiting a clinic recently with my mother, I spent an hour reading these boards that they put up cautioning patients with diabetes (and other ailments) in taking care of themselves. In this instance, one of the boards gave detailed instructions to patients with diabetes in taking care of their feet, and in seeing the lengths to which healthcare centers can go to create awareness is an indicator of how complicated ‘diabetes’ can get.

Diabetes mellitus – Types
Among the several categories that have been discovered, these three types are regarded to be most common:

A)  Type 1 Diabetes, which is also known as insulin-dependent diabetes, occurs due to the immune system attacking and destroying ‘beta cells’ in the pancreas. These cells are responsible for creating ‘insulin’, that moves glucose (from the food we eat) into cells throughout the body. Now, if glucose stays in the blood stream, this will cause damage to the body’s organs, due to hyperglycemia that is noticeable at 10+ mmol/I. Therefore, patients with this type of diabetes have to take insulin in order to survive, and includes proper diet and exercise in order to regulate their blood sugar levels.

B) Type 2 Diabetes, also known as non-insulin dependent diabetes, is the most commonly diagnosed form of diabetes in the world today. In comparison to Type 1, this type of diabetes does not respond correctly to insulin resulting in the glucose from food staying in the blood stream leading to hyperglycemia. Now, since the blood sugar levels are above normal, the body triggers the pancreas to produce more insulin, yet it is not enough to move glucose to the cells in the body. By modifying diet and exercise as well as controlling glucose levels, side effects such as blindness, neuropathy or complications that arise due to high blood sugar levels can be prevented, until the patient is cured of this condition.
Apart from these two, there is another type of diabetes, which is a condition that affects women who exhibit the symptom of high glucose during pregnancy despite having not being diagnosed with diabetes prior to this.
So let us take a closer look at this condition.

Gestational Diabetes
Much like other types of diabetes, the condition for one to be diagnosed with gestational diabetes is to have a high level of glucose in your blood stream. With almost 135000 cases of gestational diabetes in the United States today, this type of diabetes affects 4% of all pregnancies in the latter stages, so it is obvious that there exists a risk of obtaining gestational diabetes during pregnancy.

The reason this condition occurs, as a mother requires three times more insulin than normally when giving birth, and when there is a resistance to insulin, there is a buildup of glucose in the blood stream. This is harmful to not only the mother but the baby as well.

Pregnant women, who are overweight, have a family history of diabetes, have glucose in your urine or have had gestational diabetes previously have a high risk of gestational diabetes. However, there is nothing to feel stress about, as doctors will ensure that you are checked if one or more of the aforementioned factors are true in your case.

If left unchecked, gestational diabetes can spell trouble for both the child and mother. The child can be born with extra fat, making it very harder during delivery for the mother. Other issues that can crop up are low blood glucose after birth as well as breathing problems. For the mother, it increases the risk of high blood pressure during childbirth as well as increasing the chances of having a caesarian section during delivery due to a large child. These are just some risks mentioned, so it is imperative that one takes care in following a proper diet and exercise routine during pregnancy.

Here's a video that outlines what one can do to prevent the complications of gestational diabetes: Dr. Siobhan Dolan talks about the complications of gestational diabetes

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