Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is a form of diabetes that women develop during pregnancy. It can lead to serious health troubles for both mother and child.
While GDM can occur in any pregnancy, it is more common in women who are overweight or have a family history of diabetes. With proper treatment, most women with GDM can have a healthy pregnancy and baby.
Gestational diabetes mellitus signs and symptoms
It’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of GDM so the patient can get treatment and manage their blood sugar levels.
The most noticeable signs and symptoms of gestational diabetes mellitus are more-frequent urination and increased thirst. However, these are not tell-tale signs.
GDM, like any other medical condition, requires a formal diagnosis.
Gestational diabetes mellitus causes
The specific cause of gestational diabetes mellitus is unknown.
During pregnancy, the placenta releases a number of hormones, including human placental lactogen, cortisol, and oestrogen. These hormones tend to block insulin from performing its primary function – which is to allow blood glucose to be used as energy.
Without enough insulin, the blood glucose (sugar) level rises. As the pregnancy enters the second trimester, there is an increased production of these hormones.
This is why GDM is usually diagnosed after 24 weeks into the pregnancy.
Gestational diabetes mellitus risk factors
Though the exact cause remains unknown, there are certain risk factors that can put a woman at an increased risk for gestational diabetes mellitus.
Listed below are the major gestational diabetes mellitus risk factors:
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Having prediabetes
- Previous history of GDM
- Having polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Family history of diabetes (immediate family members).
- Previous delivery of a baby that weighed over 9 pounds.
- Age greater than 25 years
Gestational diabetes mellitus diagnosis
GDM only occurs during pregnancy and usually goes away after the baby is born. But if a person has GDM, they are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes later in life.
Thus, it’s crucial to get tested and treated early.
Women with GDM risk factors should get tested as early as the first prenatal visit. On the other hand, women who do not check any of the risk factors should be screened between 24 and 28 weeks of gestation.
Women who do get the diagnosis of gestational diabetes mellitus are regularly monitored 6-12 weeks postpartum. Once a diagnosis has been given, doctors recommend lifelong screening for prediabetes or type 2 diabetes – every three years, at least.
Complications of gestational diabetes mellitus
Gestational diabetes mellitus can be a complex condition to manage. A woman diagnosed with GDM needs to be extra careful during pregnancy to ensure a healthy outcome for herself and her baby.
Here are the possible complications of GDM for the mother:
- High blood pressure that can also be life-threatening.
- Surgical delivery by C-section
- Probability of GDM in a future pregnancy.
- Probability of developing type 2 diabetes in later stages of life.
These are possible complications of gestational diabetes mellitus for the baby:
It’s a condition that results in a baby being born larger than average. And one of the main causes of macrosomia is GDM.In an attempt to use the higher-than-normal maternal blood glucose, the foetus produces more insulin. The extra glucose is turned into fat as a result. Babies with macrosomia are often born weighing more than 8 pounds 13 ounces (4,000 grams).They may also be born with a large head circumference and length.
Another complication of GDM is the baby’s low blood sugar level (hypoglycemia) immediately after delivery.While in the womb, the foetus has high insulin levels as a consequence of GDM. After delivery, the baby continues to have high insulin in its system.However, since the supply of high maternal blood sugar is cut off post-delivery, the baby’s blood glucose may drop to dangerous levels. Doctors may then need to supply that glucose intravenously.
Gestational diabetes mellitus treatment
The treatment of GDM will depend on these factors:
- Age and overall health of the mother.
- Tolerance for specific therapies, procedures, or medications.
- The extent of the disease.
The management of gestational diabetes mellitus usually includes:
- Daily monitoring of blood glucose
- Insulin injections and other medications.
- Regular exercise
- Special diet as recommended by a dietician.
- Monitoring the baby’s growth and development.
Gestational diabetes mellitus prevention
Prevention of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is possible through a healthy lifestyle and regular check-ups with a healthcare provider.
Since GDM can lead to serious health complications for both mother and child, it’s important to be proactive with care.
That includes being at a healthy weight before pregnancy and getting at least 30 minutes of exercise daily during pregnancy. However, everything must be done after consultation with a doctor.
GDM can cause serious health problems for both the mother and the baby. If you have gestational diabetes mellitus, you will need to be closely monitored and managed by a competent healthcare team.
Visit the CK Birla Hospital to get the proper diagnosis and best treatment for gestational diabetes mellitus. Our dedicated obstetrics unit that provides a safe and memorable birthing experience. We also have a coordinated team of nutritionists, gynaecologists, endocrinologists, obstetricians, midwives, and other support staff to provide expert care 24*7.