Gestational diabetes is a temporary mild form of diabetes which occurs during pregnancy. With a frequency of 5 – 10 %, 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 after it is born.
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 diabetes later.
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. Geriatric pregnancy, excessive weight and a family history of diabetes are also considered to be risk factors.
Mild gestational diabetes does not usually cause any symptoms. 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 vaginal infections occur more frequently. Gestational diabetes is also a risk factor for the development of gestational hypertension.
If gestational diabetes is not treated, the child's health in particular will be seriously affected. This can result in deformities and growth disturbances. 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.
Gestational diabetes is diagnosed with regular measurements of the patient's blood sugar level. Blood sugar checks are particularly important in the second half of the pregnancy.
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.