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  Facts About Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes is a high-blood sugar condition that complicates about two to four percent of all U.S. pregnancies. It usually begins in the fifth or sixth month of pregnancy (between the 24th and 28th weeks) and then goes away after the baby is born, but may develop into Type 2 diabetes. About forty percent of women who are diagnosed with gestational diabetes will develop Type 2 diabetes later in life. 

Higher levels of pregnancy hormones interfere with insulin function and make your body more resistant to it.  High sugar levels in your blood can be unhealthy for both you and your baby. If the diabetes isn't treated, your baby may be more likely to have problems at birth, such as a low blood sugar level or jaundice, or your baby may weigh much more than is normal.

Exactly who will be affected by gestational diabetes is difficult to tell, which is why all pregnant women are routinely tested. However, there are some factors that have been identified as increasing a woman's chances of developing it:

  • Obesity
  • Family history of diabetes (including distant relatives)
  • Previous birth of greater than nine pounds
  • Poor obstetrical history (including stillbirths, miscarriages, congenital defects, hydramniosis) 
  • Previous gestational diabetes diagnosis
  • History of glucose intolerance
  • History of sugar in urine
  • Over 25 years of age
  • Severe stress (emotional or physical)

Eating a balanced diet and moderate exercise may be all that is required to maintain normal blood sugar levels.  Regular blood testing is used to monitor progress and if it is found that a more advanced treatment is required, your doctor may refer you to a specialist such as Southwest Endocrinology Associates.

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