Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is a form of diabetes diagnosed for the first time during pregnancy. The condition is the fastest growing type of diabetes among Australian women and usually occurs between the 24th to 28th week of pregnancy.
What it is
Gestational diabetes, like other types of diabetes, affects how your cells use glucose (a type of sugar). When your blood glucose level is too high for too long, it can affect your health as a pregnant woman and that of your unborn baby.
The cause of gestational diabetes is unknown. However, women with the following characteristics are at increased risk of developing gestational diabetes:
- Have had GDM in a previous pregnancy
- Are 40 years old or above
- Are overweight or obese
- Have a family history of type 2 diabetes
- Have a personal history of increased blood glucose levels
- Have previously given birth to a large baby (weighing 4.5kg or more)
- Have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Are using certain medications such as antipsychotics, steroids, etc.
- Are of African, Asian American, Hispanic, and South American race
Most women with gestational diabetes do not experience any signs of symptoms. Possible symptoms include increased thirst and frequent urination.
GDM can affect both the mother and her unborn child. In the mother, it can increase her risk of having a C- section, high blood pressure and preeclampsia, and type 2 diabetes later in life.
For the baby, there could be excessive birth weight, preterm birth, respiratory problems, low blood sugar at birth, obesity and diabetes later on in life, and stillbirth.
Prevention and Management
GDM can be prevented and managed by taking the following measures:
- Eating healthy foods rich in fibre and low in fat and calories.
- Staying active before and during pregnancy.
- Maintaining a healthy weight before and throughout pregnancy.
- Taking prescribed medications.
- Close monitoring of your blood sugar levels and your baby.
It is essential that GDM is well-managed during pregnancy, for the well-being of both mum and baby. Your healthcare provider will work with you to prevent GDM and manage it if it detected in your pregnancy.
You can make an appointment with Dr Kenny on 07 3188 5000.
This article is written to be informative and does not substitute seeking a professional consultation from a medical professional.