Are you familiar with what gestational diabetes is? If not, you have come to the right place. There has been some talk in the media lately about gestational diabetes rates increasing. Let’s take a look at what it is and what can be done about it.
Gestational Diabetes Basics
Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that happens during pregnancy. The women who get gestational diabetes do not have diabetes before getting pregnant. It is estimated that 2% – 10% of pregnancies in the United States are affected by gestational diabetes (1).
During pregnancy, some women don’t make enough insulin or develop insulin resistance which causes gestational diabetes. If you aren’t familiar with insulin, it is a hormone made by the pancreas. Insulin helps your body convert food into energy that your body needs for everyday functions and living. If your body doesn’t make enough insulin or your body doesn’t respond effectively to the insulin, it causes gestational diabetes.
Oftentimes gestational diabetes does not have any symptoms. This is one of the reasons why attending all your pregnancy healthcare appointments is essential. Your healthcare provider should screen you for gestational diabetes during pregnancy between 24 and 28 weeks.
Having gestational diabetes increases negative health risks for you and your baby. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some health issues you and your baby could experience related to gestational diabetes include (1):
- Greater risk of high blood pressure during pregnancy
- Greater risk of having a large baby that required a C-section birth
- Preterm birth and possible developmental concerns
- Baby having low blood sugar levels
- Baby developing type 2 diabetes later in life
- Mother developing type 2 diabetes after pregnancy
Preventing Gestational Diabetes
A recent study found that gestational diabetes in the United States is on the rise among all races and ethnicities (2). This is concerning because it could have long-term negative health effects on mothers and their children.
The good news is that there are methods you can try to prevent gestational diabetes. If you are not pregnant yet, you can prevent it by losing weight if needed and getting regular exercise. If you are already pregnant, you should not be trying to lose weight but you can aid in preventing gestational diabetes by eating a healthy diet and possibly staying with your normal exercise habits. You should talk with your healthcare provider and get their clearance before starting any new exercises, diets, supplements, or medications.
- Gestational diabetes can be harmful to the health of women and their unborn children
- Gestational diabetes rates are on the rise in the United States
- Talk with your healthcare provider about how you can prevent gestational diabetes
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, August 10). Gestational diabetes. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved April 22, 2022
- Shah NS, Wang MC, Freaney PM, et al. Trends in Gestational Diabetes at First Live Birth by Race and Ethnicity in the US, 2011-2019. 2021;326(7):660–669. doi:10.1001/jama.2021.7217