About Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes occurs in approximately 7% of pregnant women over the course of their pregnancies. The disease refers to abnormalities in insulin production and glucose levels that occur as a result of ongoing pregnancy, in particular the effects of the placenta on hormone production in the body. Although most women who develop gestational diabetes during their pregnancy experience normal insulin and glucose levels after delivering, as many as 50% may go on to develop Type 2 diabetes within 20 years of the pregnancy. In a large number of cases, the condition can be managed through diet and exercise; however, in some cases, women with gestational diabetes may have to receive medication including supplemental insulin, and most women with the condition must find good diabetic supply companies to purchase items such as testing kits and other diabetic accessories to manage their lifestyle.

In terms of what causes gestational diabetes, as a pregnancy progresses, the placenta secretes hormones that can make it more difficult for a woman’s body to use insulin normally. This means that more glucose remains in the body—not used as fuel for the cells, but lingering in its harmful state, which means that the body requires increasingly large amounts of insulin to maintain normal levels. Gradually, the mother’s pancreas loses the ability to keep up with the demand for insulin, and the body falls behind in processing glucose. If this condition isn’t controlled, the glucose in the blood can pass into the baby’s body, which increases its own insulin production. This in turn results in increased fat storage—and larger babies can lead to more difficult and complex deliveries. Control of gestational diabetes is generally managed with diet and exercise, along with blood glucose monitoring at home, using testing kits available from any number of diabetic supply companies.

Gestational diabetes can occur in any pregnant woman, but there are certain risk factors that make it more likely; for example, if a woman is overweight when the pregnancy begins, if she is over the age of 30 or has a strong family history of diabetes. In addition, women of black, Hispanic, Asian, American Indian, and Pacific Islander heritage are more at risk of developing gestational diabetes than other populations. Other factors include previous history of gestational diabetes, previous pregnancies that resulted in the birth of a baby weighing more than nine pounds, and polycystic ovary syndrome. Routine tests are used to diagnose gestational diabetes, including a glucose challenge; the woman consumes a drink with 50 grams of glucose, and an hour later her blood is tested to see how well her body has processed that glucose. Depending on the result, the doctor may order further tests such as a glucose tolerance test, to confirm the diagnosis.

As previously mentioned, in most cases, women who develop gestational diabetes are able to manage their condition by changing their diet and participating in physical activities under a doctor’s direction. In some cases, the body is unable to manage glucose levels even with these measures, and medication is needed. In almost all cases, a doctor will recommend that a woman with gestational diabetes find a diabetic supply company that she is comfortable working with, to purchase the testing supplies that she will need to monitor her blood glucose levels throughout the rest of the pregnancy and ensure that she is getting the results she needs to keep herself—and her baby—healthy.

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