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What is Gestational Diabetes? - Why Only Pregnant Women Have This Immune System Disorder

Updated on August 3, 2017

Gestational diabetes is a disorder characterized by a high level of sugar in the blood of pregnant women even if they have no previous history of the disease. It is carbohydrate intolerance that starts during pregnancy.

Pregnant women suffer from gestational diabetes because of their body's inability to regulate their sugar level due to their body's very low supply of insulin.

The insufficient supply of insulin among pregnant women could be a result of insulin resistance or it could be caused by a disease of the immune system.

Insulin resistance usually occurs on the second trimester of a woman's pregnancy and develops into a level similar to that experienced by women who are not pregnant.

Why does a pregnant woman's body become resistant to insulin?

Resistance to insulin is likely caused by the increase in body weight and the body's accumulation of fats and by the effects of the various hormones released during pregnancy that tend to inhibit the release of insulin.

When a woman is pregnant, her body releases different types of hormones that are needed by her and her growing baby. These hormones which include cortisol, progesterone, estradiol, and human placental lactogen make the body resistant to insulin resulting to high level of sugar in the blood and in the cells making them unresponsive to the presence of insulin.

There is hope!

Don't worry, pregnant moms, there's hope because gestational diabetes is highly treatable. One thing you should do is to have full control of your glucose levels while you're pregnant and if you can do that successfully then you will be able to significantly decrease the risk of this disease.

First step is to carefully watch your diet. You need to plan and choose what you eat to be successful in this journey.

What is insulin and why is it important for the proper functioning of the body?

Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas that plays an important role in regulating carbohydrate and fat metabolism in the body. It helps the cells in the liver and skeletal muscles absorb glucose from the blood.

However, because of insulin resistance, glucose cannot properly enter the cells and merely remains in the bloodstream causing the glucose content in the blood to rise.

Glucose, when it reaches the liver and skeletal muscles, is stored in those organs in the form of glycogen, and stored as triglycerides in fat tissues.

What are the characteristics of babies born to mothers with gestational diabetes?

Babies whose mothers have gestational diabetes have a greater chance of developing jaundice, they have low blood sugar level and their size at birth could be bigger than their age which could cause birth complications.

Birth complications usually occur during the 7th month of gestation and any attempt at treating these potential complication should be given during the early months or better yet on the first trimester of pregnancy.

The most frequent cause of death of a neonate whose mother has gestational diabetes is fetal macrosomia which is related to asphyxia and birth injuries. Treat the mother's gestational diabetes with insulin and the the incidence of fetal macrosomia will greatly be reduced.

Glucose screening for pregnant women with gestational diabetes

Because gestational diabetes rarely manifest symptoms, glucose screening is recommended as the best way to find out if you have gestational diabetes.

Doctors recommend a GCT or glucose challenge test somewhere between the 24th and 28th week of pregnancy to find out whether a pregnant woman has gestational diabetes or not.

© 2013 Zee Mercado

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