Diabetes is on the rise among all age groups in the U.S. including young pregnant women. Gestational diabetes can harm both mother and baby, increasing the risk of miscarriage and preterm birth.
The frequency of gestational diabetes has nearly doubled in the past two decades. It is a type of diabetes, or high blood sugar, that can develop during pregnancy. Dr. Michael Jakoby, associate professor of endocrinology at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield, explains the risks to mother and baby.
SOUND BITE: “Risks to the baby include what’s called macrosomia or large baby for gestational age. Macrosomia in turn can increase the risk of birth trauma. Perhaps the most frequent specific individual injury is injury to the shoulder during delivery because the baby is too large for the birth canal. Large babies can also necessitate ceaseran section deliveries. Mothers are at risk for something called pre-eclampsia. It’s a condition in which they can develop high blood pressure, kidney impairment . . .”
Dr. Jakoby says risk factors for gestational diabetes include being over the age of 25, being overweight or obese, and having a family history of diabetes. To help control blood sugar, he suggests eating a healthy diet and doing regular exercise.
SOUND BITE: “For women who cannot reach blood sugar targets through diet and exercise alone, some combination of long-acting or short-acting insulin may be required to keep blood sugars on target . . . A woman just diagnosed with gestational diabetes will likely be asked by her obstetrician to check her blood sugar four times a day – once in the morning, then an hour after each meal.”
Dr. Jakoby encourages anyone with risk factors for diabetes to visit their primary care physician or obstetrician to check their blood sugar levels. If their levels are high, they should monitor the levels on a regular basis and learn about controlling their diabetes.
This is Ruth Slottag at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield.