Gestational diabetes is a condition where women experience elevated blood glucose levels during pregnancy, but never had any signs of diabetes or high blood sugars prior. The American Diabetes Association shows gestational diabetes to be more common among Hispanic, Native American, Asian, and African-American populations as compared to Caucasian populations. The classic risk factors for gestational diabetes include maternal age over 25, obesity, large infant size, hydramnios (excess amount of amniotic fluid), and miscarriages.
Often times, gestational diabetes is seen in the second half of pregnancy. The fetal nutrient demand increases and mom needs to consume more calories and glucose for energy needs. During this time, pregnancy hormones create a maternal insulin-resistance, and the body’s insulin needs are now also increasing. If the mother’s insulin is not able to compensate for this, gestational diabetes can result (Kitty Cashion, RN, BC, MSN).
As mentioned before, gestational diabetes affects the fetus toward the end of the pregnancy (after the major organ and system developments have occurred). What does occur is the passing of excess glucose in the mother’s blood through the placenta. This increases the baby’s blood glucose levels and makes its pancreas work harder to control the blood sugar. The American Diabetes Association explains how this constant excess of energy is stored as fat and often leads to larger babies (macrosomia) come time for delivery.
Another thing to expect at delivery is a baby conditioned to creating lots of insulin to control the constant sugar levels. Now, out of the mother and in a more controlled sugar state, gestational diabetic babies often have to be monitored for HYPOglycemia. This is because they are so used to lots and lots of sugar and creating lots and lots of insulin to control this. If they continue to create this large amount of insulin, the baby’s blood sugar level will drop if not given sugars.
Recommendations to control gestational diabetes during pregnancy begin with a balanced, standard diabetic diet. (This can be found at www.diabetes.org).