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Friday, September 18, 2009

Is Gestational Diabetes Related to Type 2 Diabetes?

By Beverleigh H Piepers

Most expectant women look forward to pregnancy as a time filled with joy and wonder. Many are excited about spending time on fun activities like shopping for cute baby's clothes, decorating the baby's room or simply awaiting their baby's first kicks. However, for an increasing number of mothers-to-be, pregnancy also means that they have to face a serious health risk known as gestational diabetes.

Gestational diabetes (GDM) technically means "high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) first recognized during pregnancy". The symptoms of GDM are:

  • extreme thirst
  • hunger
  • fatigue

but many women do not notice them. GDM usually resolves after giving birth but may recur in future pregnancies.

Gestational diabetes:

  • occurs in between three to twelve per cent of all pregnancies
  • alters the way your body uses glucose, the body's chief source of energy
  • occurs between the twenty-fourth and twenty-eight week of pregnancy
  • usually resolves after delivery but may recur in future pregnancies.

Knowing how sugar is normally processed in your body can help you understand how this diabetes occurs. After you eat:

  • your body breaks down carbohydrates from foods into various sugar molecules
  • one of these molecules is called glucose, and is usually absorbed into your bloodstream
  • glucose cannot enter the cells without the help of insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas
  • insulin facilitates the movement of glucose from you bloodstream into cells in your body where it can be used as energy

The exact mechanism behind gestational diabetes is still unknown but it is thought to occur because of hormonal changes that take place during pregnancy. These changes cause:

  • your body to be less sensitive to insulin as the growing placenta secretes hormones that can block the insulin your pancreas normally makes
  • this then forces your pancreas to work harder and make three times as much insulin as usual
  • when your pancreas is no longer able to keep up with the higher demand your blood sugar levels rise

How is gestational diabetes treated?

The treatment goal is to keep blood sugars in the normal range and, as it usually follows the form of type 2 diabetes, it can be managed through diet and self-monitoring of your blood sugars. Your health care provider will teach you how to self-monitor, modify your diet, and exercise properly.

Recent research though has shown that only one third of pregnant mothers with this form of diabetes were able to control their blood sugar levels through diet and self-monitoring, therefore insulin may be necessary.

After giving birth, your health care provider may recommend regular testing of your fasting blood sugar level. Why? Because within five to fifteen years of the pregnancy, ten to fifty per cent of women who had GDM develop 2 diabetes.

In some cases, gestational diabetes really reveals type 1 or type 2 diabetes during pregnancy. If you have type 2 in your family, you are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes in the future after having gestational diabetes.

As pregnancy can mask the symptoms of low blood sugar levels, you cannot rely on how well you feel. Self monitoring your blood sugars will help you to keep your levels in the range advised by your health care provider.

Why not learn all you can about type 2 diabetes, this information can help you. If you would like to download my free E-Book, click here now: Answers to Your Questions

Beverleigh Piepers is a registered nurse who would like to help you understand how to live easily and happily with your Type 2 Diabetes.

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