What is Gestational Diabetes?

You are perhaps familiar with the regular Diabetes where the body fails to completely use up the insulin produced by it. As a result the blood sugar levels rise and pose problems in the proper functioning of the bodily organs and systems. Gestational diabetes is also similar, but with the only difference that it is seen only in pregnant women, mostly around the third trimester. And although it as a temporary malfunction, which turns to normal after childbirth, preventing its occurrence and getting it treated in time becomes important because it poses considerable threat to the pregnancy.

How common is it

Gestational diabetes is seen in nearly 14% of all pregnant women, although it may not be really severe and harmful in most cases. So far there are no clearly established causes or triggers for the occurrence of this problem. However, several studies point towards some probable causes which can increase your risk of getting gestational diabetes during the third trimester.

Some of these noted triggers are overweight, smoking, pregnancies after the age of 40, a family history of diabetes, alcohol intake during pregnancy and even ethnicity. African and Hispanic women are more prone to developing gestational diabetes as against the women form other ethnicities. In any case, whether you are at risk or at no risk, getting your blood sugar tested regularly is important for every pregnant woman.

The symptoms

There are no clearly defined symptoms shown by pregnant women suffering from gestational diabetes, but some general symptoms like excessive thirst, increased appetite and frequent urination can be some of the starting signs. But in most cases not even one of these symptoms may be present, so the only way to play it safe is to get your blood sugar levels tested every fifteen days from the 24th week of pregnancy onwards.

What problem can it lead to?

When left untreated gestational diabetes can lead to many complications like pre-clampsia and high blood pressure. If pre-clampsia sets off you may see swelling of body parts, immense weight gain, and persistent headache and vision problems. Pre-clampsia is indicated by a consistently high blood pressure and the presence of protein in the urine.

Gestational diabetes or the subsequent occurrence of pre-clampsia can cause a lot of damage to your pregnancy like abnormal growth of the fetus, slow development of the lungs and certain other birth defects.

Sidharth Thakur