Gestational diabetes is high blood sugar during pregnancy. It usually goes away after the baby is born, however it can lead to health problems for both the mother and baby.
For the baby, it can increase the risk of the baby weighing more than 9 pounds and having a difficult delivery. It can also increase the risk of the baby becoming overweight and developing type II diabetes in the future.
A recent study also suggests that if a woman with gestational diabetes has a diet high in refined grains during pregnancy, it can increase the risk of child obesity by age 7.
For the mother, gestational diabetes can increase the risk of complications during labour and delivery. It also increases the risk of developing gestational diabetes during future pregnancies, and of developing type II diabetes in the future.
The following are risk factors for gestational diabetes:
- Being 35 years of age or older
- Being from a high-risk group (Aboriginal, Hispanic, South Asian, Asian and African)
- Obesity (BMI of 30kg/m2 or higher)
- Previously having gestational diabetes
- Previously giving birth to a baby that weighed more than 9 pounds
- Using corticosteroid medication
- Family history of type 2 diabetes
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
If you develop gestational diabetes, you can reduce the risks – and have a happy, healthy baby – by keeping your gestational diabetes well-managed. You can do this by:
Consuming a healthy diet.
Limiting your intake of refined grains.
Consuming regular meals and snacks throughout the day.
Achieving a normal pregnancy weight gain.
Being physically active.
Monitoring your blood glucose levels regularly.
Taking insulin, if needed.
Maternal dietary intakes of refined grains during pregnancy and growth through the first 7 y of life among children born to women with gestational diabetes, Zhu, Yeyi, et al., American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, doi:10.3945/ajcn.116.136291, published 7 June 2017.
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