Gestational Diabetes is a form of Type 2 diabetes that begins during pregnancy, often near the end of the second trimester or during the third trimester. It is caused by the hormones of pregnancy or by a shortage of insulin. It affects 7% of all pregnancies and over 200,000 women a year in the U.S. Although this form of diabetes tends to go away after the baby is born, type 2 diabetes is more likely later in life.
It is recommended that all pregnant women be screened for gestational diabetes during the 24th and 28th weeks of their pregnancy. The symptoms are usually mild for the mother but there are risks for the baby, including large size at birth, birth trauma, hypoglycemia, and jaundice. Maintaining control of blood sugar levels significantly reduces these risk.
A recent study by Kaiser Permanente's Center for Health Research in Oregon and Hawaii, published in Diabetes Care, has found that treating pregnant women for diabetes during pregnancy can break the link between gestational diabetes and childhood obesity. It shows that the risk of childhood obesity rises as a pregnant woman's blood sugar level rises, and that untreated gestational diabetes nearly doubles a child's risk of becoming obese by age 5 to 7. It was also found that by treating women with gestational diabetes, the child's risk of becoming obese is the same as children whose mothers had normal blood sugar levels.
The researchers used the organization's integrated databases to analyze medical records of 9,439 mother-child pairs. The subjects were members of the health plan in Oregon, Washington and Hawaii who gave birth between 1995 and 2000.
The web sources below provide some of the best information on gestational diabetes.
- The ADA outlines the importance of treatment for Gestational Diabetes for both mother and child.
- The Canadian Diabetes Association has an information page on Diabetes and Pregnancy
- Visit Joslin's Pregnancy Clinic for information, advice and services.
- The Baby Center offers good guidance