Gestational Diabetes: How to Tell If You Are at Risk
When a woman is diagnosed with diabetes for the first time during her pregnancy, she is said to have gestational diabetes. This occurs when the blood sugar level is too high and happens when the body cannot produce enough insulin to break down the glucose in the body or the insulin being produced cannot be used by the body like it should be. The hormones produced by a pregnant woman can trigger this reaction in the body, and it is more common than more people know. In the U.S alone, the reported rates of gestational diabetes range from two to 10 percent of all pregnancies. In other words, some women suffer a higher risk than others do.
There are certain indicators that can show the risk factor of a pregnant woman. One of those indicators is the age of the woman. Generally, women who are above the age of 25 are at risk of developing gestational diabetes. Closely linked to the age factor is a history of diabetes in the family. If any member of the family, parent or sibling has previously been diagnosed with diabetes, then there is a strong likelihood that a pregnant woman belonging to that family might develop gestational diabetes.
A woman who has previously given birth to a baby that weighed over nine pounds (over four kilograms) may be at risk for gestational diabetes. This also applies if there was a previous unexplained stillbirth. A woman who had gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy would most likely have it again in another pregnancy.
Another risk factor relates to the weight of the pregnant woman. A woman who was overweight before getting pregnant is in the high risk zone for gestational diabetes. When a woman is obese, that is that the body mass index is over 30, then the risks of diabetes during pregnancy are higher.
Researchers have also found that the incidence of diabetes during pregnancy is higher among women who are not white. This covers women of African descent, Hispanic women and Asian women. The reason for this is not particularly clear, but it is a fact.
It is important to remember that there are women who do not fall into any of these risk categories and yet have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes. It is for this reason that a pregnant woman’s healthcare provider will usually schedule a test for diabetes somewhere between 24 to 28 weeks of the pregnancy.
Diabetes screening is a standard procedure for most pregnant women, whether they have the risk factors or not. This is usually done through a glucose screening test or a fasting blood sugar test. A positive result does not automatically mean gestational diabetes, as it might simply mean that the glucose level in the blood is high and precautionary measures need to be taken.
Most women who develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy do not remain that way after the baby is born, and often the diabetes disappears and never comes back. However, the 2011 National Diabetes Factsheet revealed that women who have had gestational diabetes stand a good chance of developing diabetes in the future. It is better to avoid it altogether by eating right and having regular physical exercise.
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