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How can you prevent gestational diabetes?

By March 3, 2009 - 2:32pm
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I am on a fact-finding mission, and need your help!

It seems as though there is not much information about preventing gestational diabetes (in comparison to the vast amount of information for preventing adult-onset diabetes). I would assume that preventing one type of diabetes would be similar to preventing another type (through diet, exercise and maintaining healthy weight), but from my understanding, that is only part of the equation. The other part is just how your body responds to the pregnancy, which is uncontrollable...right?! Is that true, or not?

According to the American Diabetes Association, "We don't know what causes gestational diabetes, but we have some clues. The placenta supports the baby as it grows. Hormones from the placenta help the baby develop. But these hormones also block the action of the mother's insulin in her body. This problem is called insulin resistance. Insulin resistance makes it hard for the mother's body to use insulin. She may need up to three times as much insulin.

Gestational diabetes starts when your body is not able to make and use all the insulin it needs for pregnancy. Without enough insulin, glucose cannot leave the blood and be changed to energy. Glucose builds up in the blood to high levels. This is called hyperglycemia."

After reading this, it sounds as though diet and exercise alone can not prevent gestational diabetes, and it is truly the woman's reaction to the pregnancy.

Can you provide me with more information about how gestational diabetes actually occurs, specifically for someone who does not have the risk factors (is not overweight, exercises and eats healthfully), beyond the risk factor of a previous pregnancy with gestational diabetes?

Thanks in advance!

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Alison B, this is a great question. I am one of those who ended up with gestational diabetes when I was pregnant with my daughter. There is something call Syndrome X, I suggest you read a book written on this subject. It will help you understand the genetic predisposition to diabetes despite the fact you may practice healthy living. Some of us go through life not even thinking about it, but once pregnant our body manifests the symptoms of diabetes because the pancreas is unable to adapt quickly to the changes in our bodies (i.e. weight gain, hormonal changes) so insulin production for example will not be optimal thus resulting on GD. A very strict diet during the 9 months will assist the pancreas from overworking during the pregnancy cycle. But it is a sign that we are at risk of developing onset diabetes at a later time in our lifes if we are not careful with our bodies.

The NIH offers great information on gestational diabetes, here is the link in case you want to read more about this topic. http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/gestational/

March 5, 2009 - 12:24am
HERWriter Guide


Great question!

As you said, you really cannot prevent G.D. no more than you can prevent cancer, although there are things you can do to lessen your chances. Exercise, good fresh foods and keeping weight in check.

Why some women and not others? It's not exactly known, although if a woman is over-wight, over age 35, or have a family history of diabetes, she may be more at risk. But a women who has a healthy weight, works out and no history of diabetes can also get GD.

Simply put, pregnancy hormones (estrogen, progesterone being the main ones) can sometimes block insulin in the mother from working properly.

Since these hormones can sometimes make it more difficult for the body to use insulin the way it normally does, the pancreas needs to produce more to compensate. The majority of pregnant women don't experience problems with their pancreas, even though it's working overtime! So the more a woman needs the insulin, the harder her pancreas works to make it and it doesn't have a problem keeping up.

But on occasion, some womens' pancreases do have trouble keeping up with this kind of overtime. It like when you are running days behind with something. The pancreas sometimes is days behind too- and it results in her blood glucose levels becoming too high - and this is what results in G.D.

I hope that explained it in an understandable way!

March 4, 2009 - 2:11pm
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