Gestational diabetes is a condition that manifests in pregnant women who have no prior history or symptoms of diabetes. It’s not an entirely unusual health concern, affecting approximately 4 percent of all pregnant women.

Underlying Factors

Pregnancy naturally elevates blood sugar levels and induces hormonal shifts in all women. However, in some instances, these hormonal fluctuations can cause blood sugar levels to rise to diabetic levels. This happens when the body fails to generate sufficient insulin to convert glucose into energy, resulting in high blood sugar levels.

While there isn’t a single cause, several risk factors have been identified. Women who are overweight, have polycystic ovarian disease, or have a family history of diabetes are more likely to develop gestational diabetes.

Signs

Most of the time, gestational diabetes does not present any noticeable symptoms. This is why regular screenings are performed throughout pregnancy. A blood sugar test is conducted during each prenatal visit, and a glucose tolerance test is administered at least once during pregnancy.

Testing and Diagnosis

The glucose tolerance test typically carried out between the 24th and 28th week of pregnancy, involves consuming a sugary drink with a rather unpleasant taste. After an hour, a blood sample is taken to measure blood sugar levels. If the results are inconclusive, a more comprehensive test may be required over a more extended period.

Management

The management strategies for gestational diabetes mirror those for any other form of diabetes. Further tests are conducted to decide if insulin is required or if the condition can be managed with medication, dietary adjustments, or a combination of these. In most cases, insulin is administered either by injection or in pill form. A nutritionist will advise dietary choices and recommend regular, baby-safe exercise.

It’s crucial to remember that prompt and appropriate treatment can prevent many complications associated with gestational diabetes, resulting in the safe delivery of a healthy baby. However, if gestational diabetes leads to excessive fetal growth, a cesarean section may be necessary to avoid additional complications.

Treatment is tailored to each individual case, based on the results of glucose and other tests. It’s important to follow the advice provided by your doctor and nutritionist.