There are many concerns a woman will have during her pregnancy, and one that can easily be put to rest with a simple test is gestational diabetes mellitus or more commonly known as diabetes during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes can arise during the second or third trimesters, and can cause complications for the mother as well as the unborn child. Diabetes during pregnancy occurs in a relatively small percentage of expectant mothers, and can often be controlled by diet and exercise throughout the pregnancy.
Many doctors will routinely test for diabetes in pregnancy between 24 and 28 weeks of gestation, especially if a woman has risk factors that will increase her odds of developing it. These risk factors include a history of high blood pressure, obesity, ethnicity and a family history of diabetes. Women who have experienced diabetes in pregnancy in the past have a greater chance of developing it again in subsequent pregnancies. Women who are pregnant at an older age also have a greater risk of diabetes in pregnancy.
The test will include fasting and then drinking glucola, which is a mixture of concentrated sugar. Once the glucola is ingested, a blood test is done to check blood sugar levels. If gestational diabetes is diagnosed, a program of diet and exercise will be prescribed to try to control the diabetes during the pregnancy.
What Does Diabetes in Pregnancy Look Like?
Often diabetes during pregnancy is diagnosed before symptoms become obvious. Some of the symptoms that can show up are an increase in hunger, thirst and urination, recurrent vaginal infections and increased blood pressure. Many women complain of fatigue, although this is not a good test, since fatigue is a common symptom of pregnancy. Often sugar will show up in urine during a routine test and this will prompt the doctor to proceed with the glucose test.
It is important to diagnose and treat diabetes in pregnancy as quickly as possible, since it can cause complications during pregnancy. Risks to the mother include raised blood pressure which can lead to a dangerous condition known as ecclampsia. It can also increase the chances of a woman developing Type 2 diabetes later in life. The unborn child can have problems with its heart or kidneys as a result of the mother’s diabetes during pregnancy.
Diabetes during pregnancy is certainly an unwanted complication, but fortunately it can be diagnosed easily and treated effectively. The important thing to remember is to stay on schedule with prenatal visits to the doctor so that the doctor can stay on top of any potential problems.