How to Diagnose and Treat Gestational Diabetes

Pregnant woman checking blood sugar level with blood glucose meter gestational diabetes.

Almost 10 to 14.3% of pregnant women in India develop gestational diabetes, which is a major cause for concern. Among pregnant women who develop gestational diabetes, 50% eventually develop either type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

Not to mention, if it’s left uncontrolled, it could cause huge complications during delivery and still have no cure. Here’s everything we need to know about diagnosing and treat gestational diabetes.

What is gestational diabetes?

Gestational diabetes only happens during pregnancy. It occurs when the placenta produces special hormones that prevent our body from efficiently using insulin. Since the placenta only releases this hormone during pregnancy, gestational diabetes only occurs in pregnant women and is temporary. But one must start taking care of it immediately, or it may develop into type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

When that happens, there’s no going back. A proper diet and an active lifestyle can prevent gestational diabetes from developing into type 1 or type 2 diabetes. But what causes gestational diabetes?

Causes of gestational diabetes (GDM)?

At the time of pregnancy, women eat for two people, increasing the demand for insulin. So, during this period, it’s natural for the body to gain a little weight. When cells cannot process excess glucose, it is stored as fat. This usually happens during the third semester when the placenta is fully developed and produces particular hormones. When this happens, the body becomes insulin resistant.

Why does our body produce insulin-resistant hormones?

Unfortunately, experts are yet to figure out what exactly causes the body to produce insulin-resistant hormones. It could be a genetic or an environmental condition.

Below are the risk factors that increase the chances of developing gestational diabetes:

  • Obesity: Being overweight or obese is the most significant risk factor for developing GDM.
  • Age: Women over 30 are at a higher risk of developing GDM.
  • Family history: Having a family member with diabetes will make us more likely to develop GDM.
  • Previous history of GDM: If one had GDM in a previous pregnancy, they are more likely to develop it again.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome: Women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) are at a higher risk of developing GDM.
  • High blood pressure: Women with high blood pressure (hypertension) are at a higher risk of developing GDM.

GDM diagnosis

A GDM treatment is done to help keep blood sugar levels in the target range.

The first step is to learn about the patient’s medical history. The doctor will ask questions about the patient’s family, her previous pregnancies, and if she has any medical conditions. This test is called OGTT, short for the Oral Glucose Tolerance Test.

With OGTT, we will have to take a glucose syrup solution, also called a sugary drink, and after about an hour, we will take the test. On average, we should have a blood sugar level below 140 mg/dL (7.8 mmol/L), which is considered normal. If the test result falls under this limit, then we don’t have gestational diabetes. But if the numbers show an elevated result, there will be a follow-up test.

This time, we will get an even sweeter drink. This solution will contain an even higher glucose compound. So, the lab doctors will measure our body’s response to this glucose level every hour for three hours. This will provide enough data to diagnose whether we have GDM.

GDM treatment

We understand gestational diabetes is not a traditional disease where we can take some pills and hope it will go away. It is a condition that requires care and proper management. But as we know, gestational diabetes is a temporary condition, meaning if we effectively manage our blood sugar levels, this condition will eventually go away after the baby’s delivery.

We must start managing our glucose levels immediately, or it could complicate the delivery process and develop into Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes after delivery.

How can we manage our blood sugar levels?

Here are a few things we should do for GDM treatment:

  • Get the weight in control. More weight generally requires more insulin.
  • Adopt a healthy diet to help pregnant women reduce excess sugar levels.
  • Live a healthy lifestyle that includes exercise, yoga, and a little walk in the park.

Wrapping up

To treat gestational diagnosis, there are many things we can do, but the most important thing is to be proactive and adopt a healthy lifestyle. Pregnancy is a beautiful phase and should be enjoyed to the fullest. But we must remember that our health comes first. If we still think we might have GDM, GDM treatment is the best way to go. Consult a doctor and get started on a healthy path today!

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