Diabetes is caused when the blood-sugar (blood glucose) level in a human body becomes too high. It is a disease that may occur to just about anyone at any age. This disease is the leading cause for heart-attack, blindness, kidney failure, and amputation in developed countries. There are three main types of diabetes: Type I, Type II, and Gestational diabetes (GDM). All the types of diabetes are serious and should be constantly monitored.
An increased level of blood-sugar level in an expecting mother (defined as “glucose intolerance”), which continues beyond 24-48 weeks of pregnancy is diagnosed as Gestational diabetes (GDM). It occurs in the ratio of one in twenty-five pregnant women and is known to have developed complications during pregnancy and delivery affecting both, mother and baby. Nearly, half of women with a history of GDM develop Type II diabetes within 5 – 10 years after delivery. Mainly overweight women diagnosed with glucose intolerance or glucose tolerance, or having family history of diabetes develop GDM. Other women under the risk scanner include woman having: Poly-cystic ovary syndrome (PCOD) and belonging to certain ethnic groups, such as African-Americans, Hispanis, Afro-Caribbeans, and South Asians.
Broadly speaking, pregnant women having any type of diabetes run the risk of developing a number of serious complications during pregnancy and delivery – both for the mother and new-born baby. It’s worthwhile to note that babies exposed to prolonged high blood pressure during the gestation period run a high risk of developing diabetes, later.
The following complications can arise if the blood-sugar levels of an expecting mother exceed target level or normal level, consistently:
- Organ damage to the mother’s fetus
- Birth defects in the new-born baby, such as mild cognitive or neurological deficits
- Growth restriction of the fetus or new-born baby
- Trauma to baby and mother (due to fetal obesity)
- New-born baby can develop diabetes in future
- Sudden drop in blood-sugar level in new-born baby
- Both mother and baby can develop Type ll diabetes within ten years
Birth defects are uncommon in pregnant women having GDM, where the GDM symptom disappears after delivery. However, women having pre-existing diabetic conditions of Type I or Type II diabetes carry a two-fold risk of delivering babies with birth defects.
Therefore, it is mandatory for women having diabetes to monitor their blood-sugar levels very closely. It is mandatory to control the blood-sugar level. Before conception, it is prudent for expecting mothers having diabetes to achieve blood-sugar target levels (2-3 months in advance) prescribed by their health-care advisor or professional. Proper diet and exercise are helpful in controlling and monitoring this condition. However, if necessary, insulin doses can also rectify such abnormal conditions.