Also known as gestational diabetes mellitus, or GDM, gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that affects pregnant women. Recently announced statistics estimate that gestational diabetes affects up to 18% of all pregnancies.
Although risk factors aid in determining the chance of developing GDM, about half of all those afflicted had no risk factors whatsoever. Whether or not symptoms subside with the conclusion of pregnancy is irrelevant in the diagnosis of GDM.
Symptoms of Gestational Diabetes
Patients usually show no symptoms of gestational diabetes. Doctors will test most patients who are at average risk when they are between 24-28 weeks pregnant. If your risk factor is higher than average, your doctor may test you earlier, sometimes as soon as you become pregnant.
Some patients may show some symptoms of untreated diabetes including:
- Frequent thirst
- Frequent urination
Risks of Gestational Diabetes
Gestational diabetes poses a significant risk to both child and mother. Most of these risks are directly related to the elevated levels of glucose in the blood, and the severity increases as the blood glucose concentration gets more extreme. For the child, the extra sugar may cause certain growth abnormalities, macrosomic or microsomic, chemical imbalances at birth , such as low blood calcium and magnesium or abnormally high red blood cell count, jaundice or respiratory distress.
Treatment of Gestational Diabetes
Treatment of gestational diabetes is directed towards reducing the inherent risks to mother and child. The most common method is counseling, in which the mother learns to control sugar intake through diet and moderate exercise. Self-monitoring blood glucose levels and medication may be given to women exhibiting multiple risk factors.
If these methods prove to be inadequate, insulin therapy may be employed.