Diabetes and pregnancy: Understanding the risks and treatment

Diabetes and pregnancy: Understanding the risks and treatment

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Gestational diabetes or recording high blood sugar levels during pregnancy is a common problem. However, this can usually be controlled with the help of your health practitioner and may not necessarily develop into Type 2 diabetes after delivery. According to Dr Manjunath Malige, Clinical Lead and Senior Endocrinologist, Aster RV Hospital, “Diabetes is among the most common medical complications during pregnancy, representing 3.3 per cent of all live births. It can occur as gestational diabetes mellitus (also known as pregnancy diabetes) and pregnancy in women with pre-existing diabetes.”

Gestational diabetes affects pregnant women usually in the second or third trimester and is diagnosed through a blood test between 24 to 28 weeks. An endocrinologist can guide mothers to be in reducing the risk of birth complications and increasing chances of a normal delivery.

The hormones the body produces during pregnancy can create a state of insulin resistance, which causes glucose levels in the blood to rise. Women at risk of developing gestational diabetes include those who are overweight, suffered from it in a previous pregnancy, delivered a large baby in previous pregnancy (4.5 kg or more) and have a family history of diabetes.

To manage gestational diabetes, one must seek professional help from an endocrinologist, consult a dietician for healthy diet options and exercise, understand how to manage low and high blood sugar and have a hospital helpline numbers at hand.

Says Dr Malige, “It is extremely important to control blood sugar during pregnancy to prevent complications to both mother and baby. Poor control increases the risk of having a large baby, making normal delivery difficult; the baby can also develop problems in the spine, heart and other organs. The chances of perinatal death also go up along with the risk of baby developing diabetes later in life.”

An endocrinologist may advise diet and regular exercise to start with but if it’s still not controlled, you may need to start on tablets, followed by insulin injections. Frequent checking of blood sugar is recommended, along with frequent baby scans. For women who have diabetes, it’s important to get it under control before planning pregnancy.