Diabetes mellitus (diabetes) has become a major health concern in this country, with diagnoses continuing to skyrocket, and a significant proportion of the population suffering from it. In fact, according to Medscape, 21 million people, or 7% of the country’s populace, currently carry a diagnosis of some form of diabetes. This means that obstetricians have become very familiar with treating pregnant women suffering from the disease, and generally have a solid protocol for successfully dealing with it throughout the length of the pregnancy. Again, this success absolutely hinges on vigilant patient compliance with dietary, testing and treatment guidelines; but if such instructions are followed and any problems reported early, you and your baby have decidedly better odds than in years past for a smooth and uncomplicated pregnancy.
However, as with any serious condition during pregnancy – but particularly diabetes and several others – there are certain risks and potential complications of which you should be aware. The subject of gestational diabetes during pregnancy is a fairly vast one, so while not comprehensive, this article will serve to offer you some key information about the major concerns and complications that may arise during your diabetic pregnancy.
As noted above, the list of possible pregnancy complications related to gestational diabetes is quite extensive, but UpToDate lists the following five common conditions seen in gestational diabetes:
It may come as no surprise that the single biggest factor in predicting complications, and therefore the main focus of prevention and treatment, is poor sugar control while pregnant. As to the risk for the fetus/baby, it is quite varied, but it can be very broadly stated that the less regulated a woman’s glucose and insulin levels, the more trouble her child might experience during its time in the womb and afterward.
To some extent, the treatments will depend on the specific problems and how serious they are. But in general, there are several major recommendations all obstetricians will offer, and these of course concern proper sugar control. Towards this end, the pregnant mother must be extremely vigilant in eating a nutritious diet, exercising regularly, closely monitoring blood sugar levels, and reporting fluctuation promptly, so that insulin or other therapy may be initiated/modified if necessary.
Beyond this, particular treatments might include C-section (for macrosomia), hypertension and kidney medication/management (preeclampsia), and any number of interventions on behalf of the mother, fetus or both, depending on the given complication and overall scenario. Finally, the mother with gestational diabetes should be seen more often (versus normal pregnancies) by their physician for certain maternal and fetal screenings, to ensure that things are progressing smoothly.
Diabetes is tricky, and there are no guarantees of a worry-free pregnancy, even with the best compliance and diligence. However, heeding the information and guidelines above, in addition to the much more extensive guidance offered by your clinician, will absolutely reduce the chances of complications, and turn the odds in your and your child’s favor.
About the Author
Dr. Rothbard is a professional medical writer and consultant based in New York City, specializing in medical education articles targeted at a variety of audiences, from children through clinicians. After leaving medicine, he worked as a biology and medical science educator for several years, before deciding to pursue writing full-time. He may be reached at [email protected].
This blog post was originally published by AutoimmuneMom.com, written by Dr. Rothbard, and first published on Jun 19, 2012.