Prevalence of Gestational Diabetes is High but Can be Controlled with Right Medical Intervention

February 2 2016,  14.06 PM IST || Pocket News Alert

Panchkula, 1st February 2016. Dr. Shilva, Consultant PGI, Paras Bliss Hospital, Panchkula. Pregnancy-related complications are common and need to be handled very cautiously lest they harm the mother or the child. Even after treading cautiously and following right advice, many expectant mothers face unforeseen complications that make their pregnancy very difficult and stressful. One of such complications is what is called gestational diabetes in medical parlance.

Gestational diabetes is defined as blood sugar imbalance in a pregnant woman who did not have diabetes earlier. As the name suggests gestational diabetes is intrinsic to pregnancy; it usually arises after the 24th week of pregnancy and in most cases goes away after the birth of the child. Although, the condition is temporary, it can cause much difficulty and associated complications during pregnancy, if not treated properly.

According to the American agency Centers of Disease Control & Prevention, gestational diabetes occurs in over 9% pregnancies in the US. While we do not have consolidated figures for the same in India, clinical evidence suggests the incidence is high and has been increasing with time.

During pregnancy, a woman’s body undergoes many alterations primarily due to changes in the hormones. Accordingly, the body also develops some degree of insulin resistance in a bid to provide the unborn with glucose and nutrients. The change is beneficial as it allows a baby to survive even if the mother experiences famine or short periods of starvation. However, the condition turns into a case of gestational diabetes when the insulin resistance shoots up exceptionally high.

It is highly important to raise awareness among women about this condition and the need for being extra cautious against it during pregnancy. Untreated gestational diabetes can hurt your baby. Untreated gestational diabetes can lead to fetal macrosomia (large babies) and concomitant birth trauma.

If women with Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM) has fasting hyperglycemia (FBS >105mg%), it is associated with an increased risk of fetal death during last 4-8 weeks of gestation. A recent study has highlighted that gestational diabetes may affect the fetal brain development. About 4% of infants of women with GDM required intravenous glucose therapy for hypoglycemia.

There is also a link between gestational diabetes and increased future risk of acquiring type 2 diabetes. More than half of women with gestational diabetes ultimately develop overt diabetes in the ensuring 20 years, and there is mounting evidence for long range complications that include obesity and diabetes in their offspring. Women with GDM are also at risk for cardiovascular complications associated with abnormal serum lipids, hypertension and abdominal obesity. 50% of women with GDM develop GDM in subsequent pregnancies. So, lifestyle changes including weight control and exercise between pregnancies likely would prevent recurrence of GDM.

So, if you are pregnant, it is recommended that screening for GDM should be performed between 24-28 weeks in those women not known to have glucose intolerance earlier. It is very important to maintain a close check on your blood glucose levels and take the right precautions to control them. Right diet, regular exercise and if needed medication are crucial to controlling gestational diabetes and ensuring that you deliver a healthy baby.

How to control blood sugar levels during pregnancy?

Limit consumption of saturated fats: Reduce your intake of saturated fats like ghee and butter. Limit intake of fried food and turn to unsaturated fats like olive oil and nuts.

Break you meal over the day: Since it is important to stay full and yet eat healthy throughout the day during pregnancy, breaking the meal into smaller meals comes as good idea. Breaking the meal ensures that a continuous supply of food is provided to the unborn for its complete development.  In addition, this would enable you to have all the requirement food products, minerals and components daily. The patient should stay in regular touch with her dietician. This would also help you keep your blood sugar levels under control.

Reduce intake of sugary foods and desserts: Even if you are craving daily for an ice cream, avoid the temptation in the interest of your own and your baby’s health. Limit the intake of sugary foods that immediately shoot up the sugar levels in the blood.

Exercise daily: Make sure you walk and indulge in other moderate exercises of up to 40 minutes daily. This is most crucial in controlling blood sugar levels.


Follow doctor’s advice: Due to lack of awareness, we often come across women who do not take this condition as seriously as it should be taken. Remember, loss of control of blood sugar levels can harm your baby. Make sure you follow your doctor’s advice religiously and take medication if needed.