Gestational diabetes is one of the most common health problem faced by pregnant women. A large number of pregnant women are diagnosed with this type of diabetes. A proper treatment of gestational diabetes is essential as if is not treated properly, it can cause health problems for a mother and for a fetus.
Gestational diabetes mellitus is a condition which is characterized by impaired glucose tolerance with onset or first recognition during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes mellitus is a type of diabetes that happens only to pregnant women. In other words, when a woman is diagnosed with diabetes during her pregnancy and has never had it before, it is known as gestational diabetes.
What is diabetes mellitus?
Diabetes mellitus is a condition when the blood glucose or the blood sugar level in the body becomes too high. It occurs when the body fails to properly process food to use as an energy. Blood glucose is the main source of energy.
Normally the pancreas which is an organ located between the stomach and spine release a hormone, known as insulin. Insulin plays a vital role in carrying glucose to all the cells of the body. But when the pancreas fails to produce sufficient insulin or when the body fails to use produced insulin, glucose stays in the blood and doesn’t reach the cells. This causes the blood glucose level to become too high and leads to the development of diabetes mellitus.
Effects of gestational diabetes on an unborn child
Usually, gestational diabetes does not cause any birth defect or deformities but there are certain conditions that can develop as a result of gestational diabetes and below are some of the conditions:
1. Macrosomia – Multiple studies have reported that babies who are born to diabetic mother are three times more likely to have macrosomia as compared to those who are born to non-diabetic mothers. Macrosomia is defined as a condition in which the birth weight of a child is more than 4000 g. Children suffering from macrosomia develop a unique pattern of overgrowth which involves the central deposition of subcutaneous fat in the abdominal and interscapular areas. Usually, they have large shoulders and significantly higher body fat and thicker upper extremity skinfolds.
2. Respiratory distress syndrome – Respiratory distress syndrome is a common respiratory disorder in preterm infants and it is clinically diagnosed with respiratory difficulties such as tachypnea, retractions and grunting respirations. Typically, respiratory distress syndrome affects preterm infants below 53 weeks of gestational age. This disease presents at birth and patients having this disease usually have a slow progression of symptoms and require supplemental oxygen. Respiratory distress syndrome is a distressing syndrome that causes an adverse impact on the quality of life of the patient.
3. Jaundice – Jaundice is characterized by the yellow coloration of skin, conjunctiva and an elevated concentration of bilirubin in intra and extra cell spaces. According to the studies, almost 70% to 80% of newborns are jaundiced in the first week of life. Therefore, it is usually recommended that newborns should be checked for jaundice before leaving the office and again within 48 hours after hospital discharge. Jaundice occurs due to an increase in the amount of bilirubin in the blood.
4. Low calcium and magnesium levels – Lack of calcium and magnesium in the baby is a common complication associated with gestational diabetes and it causes spasm in the hands and feet or cramping muscles.
Management of diabetes mellitus is important and it becomes more important in the case of gestational diabetes. Some of the ways through which diabetes can be managed are as follows:
1. Physical activity
Physical activity during pregnancy has been known to play a role in minimizing the risk in the pregnancy. Physical activity also plays a role in improving glucose metabolism and decreasing the risk of developing gestational diabetes and an effective way to manage gestational diabetes. Anything that helps you to get moving is beneficial in managing diabetes. During pregnancy, walking is a great way to involve in physical activity. Physical activity improves the overall well being of an individual.
2. Healthy Eating
During pregnancy what a pregnant woman eats is the primary focus as a woman have to take care of her child as well. If a woman is suffering from gestational diabetes then following a healthy eating plan is an important part of diabetes management as it helps in regulating the glucose level in the blood and provides adequate nutrition to a mother and her unborn baby. It is recommended to choose food wisely.
3. Monitoring blood glucose level
Monitoring blood glucose level is one of the most important steps to be taken in order to manage diabetes effectively. Monitoring blood glucose level enables you to know about the status of gestational diabetes. Sometimes it also helps in understanding what food or any other thing can lead to an increase in glucose level in the blood.
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