Gestational diabetes is a temporary mild form of diabetes which occurs during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes is one of the most common pregnancy complications. The mother does not usually notice much of it. On the other hand, growth disorders and circulatory disorders can occur in the child.

What exactly is gestational diabetes?

Gestational diabetes occurs in women who do not have diabetes but develop higher blood sugar levels during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes usually develops in the second half of the pregnancy and disappears again after the birth. However, women with gestational diabetes have a higher risk of falling ill with actual Type 2 diabetes later.

Cause of gestational diabetes

Pregnancy-related changes in the hormone metabolism are believed to be the at the heart of this, along with a change in diet with increased calorie intake.

Risk factors

The primary risk factor for the development of gestational diabetes is being overweight during pregnancy.

Additional potential risks include:

  • Older age during pregnancy
  • Diabetes in the family
  • Gestational diabetes during previous pregnancies
  • Miscarriages
  • Medication intake (cortisone, blood pressure medications, etc.)

Symptoms

Gestational diabetes usually does not present any noticeable symptoms in the expecting mother. Since these symptoms are often dismissed as side-effects the pregnancy, diagnosing gestational diabetes is even more difficult.

Potential symptoms the expecting mother may notice include:

  • Severe thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Fatigue

Complaints during pregnancy

Mild gestational diabetes does not usually cause any symptoms in the pregnant woman. If it is recognised and treated appropriately, there is normally no risk for the mother or the child. Regular checks of the blood sugar levels during the pregnancy are therefore essential. However, urinary tract infections and vaginitis occur more frequently. Gestational diabetes is also a risk with a higher risk factor for the development of gestational hypertension.

Diagnosis

Gestational diabetes can be diagnosed by repeatedly testing for sugar in urine or above average amniotic fluid levels.

Gestational diabetes is diagnosed with regular measurements of the patient's blood sugar level. Especially in the second half of the pregnancy, it is important to check blood glucose levels.

Treating gestational diabetes

If gestational diabetes is not treated, the child's health in particular will be seriously affected. This can result in deformities and growth disturbances in the child. Major growth, where birth weights over 4500 grams are not uncommon, can lead to complications during birth. The child's metabolism is affected and they often suffer from hypoglycaemia after the birth.

The treatment depends on the severity of the increase in the blood sugar. A change in eating habits with adherence to a diet is often already sufficient. Regular physical activity is also supportive. If this measure is not sufficient, insulin therapy is usually started. Blood-sugar lowering tablets may not generally be used as they are dangerous for the child.

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