Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is a condition where pregnant women with no case history of diabetes develop high blood sugar levels during pregnancy. Pregnancy triggers hormonal changes that in turn cause your blood sugar levels to rise.
The condition typically surfaces after the 24th week of pregnancy, and physicians recommend a screening test around this period. In cases where the risk of developing gestational diabetes in a patient is higher, a glucose tolerance test can be done earlier. There are no noticeable symptoms that show up, except perhaps increased thirst or urination.
Gestational Diabetes on the Rise
32 million people in India live with diabetes. Among them, the prevalence of GDM is increasing briskly – more than 16% of pregnant Indian women have gestational diabetes. A study published in the Journal of the Association of Physicians of India revealed the following statistics as the prevalence of gestational diabetes in different cities:
- 21% in Alwaye
- 18.8% in Erode
- 17.5% in Ludhiana
- 17% in Chennai
- 15% in Trivandrum
- 12% in Bangalore
Indian Women More Prone to Diabetes During Pregnancy
The study conducted by the Journal of the Association of Physicians of India also pointed out that the risk of Indian women developing pregnancy diabetes is 11.3 times more compared to others around the globe.
Another significant aspect of the study indicated that pregnant women within 30 to 39 years of age reported a greater rate of GDM as opposed to those within 20 to 29 years of age. Other risk factors for developing GDM:
- Family or personal health history
- Being overweight
- Having PCOD (polycystic ovarian disease)
Importance of Screening for GDM
Over the last two decades, as the age for onset of diabetes has been decreasing and the age of child bearing has been increasing, the number of women to enter pregnancy with pre-existing diabetes or those who will develop GDM in the coming years is expected to rise. So you never know if you could be one among the statistics unless you are tested.
Gestational diabetes can increase the risk of complications in pregnancy. Ensuring timely screening and adequate medical care helps most women with gestational diabetes continue with a healthy pregnancy and deliver healthy babies – good medical treatment makes all the difference.
Complications of Diabetes During Pregnancy
Since your baby derives all nutrients from your blood, higher blood sugar levels in your body can affect your baby too:
- Jaundice at birth
- Pre-term birth
- Hypoglycemia and low mineral levels at birth
- Short-term breathing problems
- Babies store the extra sugar as fat, making them grow larger than normal – leading to injuries during delivery
- Babies born to mothers with GDM have a greater chance of becoming obese and diabetic later
Gestational Diabetes Treatment and Diagnosis
You will be screened for gestational diabetes anywhere between 24 – 28 weeks of pregnancy. Your doctor will prescribe the needed tests that may include one to check fasting blood sugar levels and a glucose tolerance test. For the glucose tolerance test, you will have to take a glucose drink and your blood glucose level will be measured before and at intervals after the glucose drink is taken.
As part of the treatment, your doctor may recommend tracking your blood sugar levels through the day, chart out a healthy diet plan, and track weight gain to check if you need insulin or other medication.