What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a condition in which the pancreas does not produce the amount of insulin needed to control the blood glucose concentration. Glucose is a sugar that is a key fuel in the body. However, its high blood levels are linked to health problems.
This is diabetes that appears for the first time during pregnancy (although in some cases there were already high levels of glucose to begin with). It usually occurs after mid or late pregnancy.
Why is it linked to pregnancy?
During pregnancy, glucose metabolism becomes more difficult to raise its blood levels and to adequately meet the nutritional needs of the fetus. However, a percentage of women (less than 2 in 10 pregnant women) develop what is called gestational diabetes, as their body does not produce the extra insulin needed to control elevated glucose levels.
What are the risk factors?
Your chances of developing gestational diabetes are:
- if you are over 25 years old
- if you are obese
- if you have a family history of diabetes
- if, in a previous pregnancy, you had given birth to an overweight baby (over 4.5 kg)
Is there a diagnostic test?
All pregnant women are screened for gestational diabetes, initially with a blood sugar test and, between the 26th and 28th week of pregnancy, with a “sugar curve”. This is a test that detects glucose levels at different times of the day, before and after a glucose solution. If there is a predisposition to diabetes, this can be done earlier.
What am I in danger for, me and my baby?
If the condition remains undiagnosed, there may be problems in pregnancy. The fetus is at risk of gaining more weight than normal, which is directly linked to pregnancy complications, while in adulthood it is more likely to develop obesity. However, early diagnosis and medical monitoring minimize the risk.
How is gestational diabetes treated?
Your doctor will direct you accordingly. You need to regularly check the glucose levels in your blood, with proper diet, exercise and possibly taking insulin.
What will happen after pregnancy?
Although in most cases diabetes recedes after pregnancy, there is a relatively increased risk of recurrence in the future and you will therefore need to have periodic examinations.