Diabetes And Pregnancy

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Diabetes developed during pregnancy is known as gestational diabetes. Elevated blood sugar levels carry inherent health risks for the mother and often lead to babies of abnormally high birth weight. Simple lifestyle changes can help prevent the development of gestational diabetes.

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What is gestational diabetes?

Gestational diabetes develops during pregnancy. As with other types of diabetes, the condition affects how the body processes glucose. High blood sugar presents a medical risk to both the mother and the developing child. Elevated blood sugar levels can damage the eyes, nerves, and kidneys of the mother and child. Gestational diabetes carries an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. Preeclampsia, high blood pressure during pregnancy, is a common side effect of gestational diabetes that will need to be monitored closely. If left unchecked, preeclampsia can cause preterm labor and seizures or strokes in the mother.

Why do some women develop gestational diabetes?

Any woman of childbearing age can develop gestational diabetes. Women over the age of 25 are more prone to developing gestational diabetes than younger women. A family history of type 2 diabetes can also be an indicator. If a woman developed gestational diabetes during a previous pregnancy, the risk of developing the condition raises for future pregnancies. Obesity, indicated as a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher, is a strong indicator that a woman may develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy. Race may also play a factor. Women of Hispanic, Asian, or American Indian ethnicity are more prone to gestational diabetes.

Lifestyle changes for prevention

The best way to prevent gestational diabetes is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Daily exercise of at least 30 minutes will keep the heart strong and metabolism up. A healthy diet high in fiber and low in fat is recommended. Vegetables, fruits, and whole grains should be a large portion of the diet. Protein should come from lean sources such as fish or chicken. Portion control is essential. Losing weight prior to pregnancy can lower the risk of developing gestational diabetes.

Moving forward to a healthy pregnancy

The best method of prevention is to be proactive. Maintaining a lifestyle with healthy exercise and diet habits will help the body stay at a healthy weight and have long-term benefits. If there is a medical history of any type of diabetes, inform medical professionals at the beginning of pregnancy. For more information on having a healthy pregnancy, speak with a healthcare provider specializing in women’s health.