What is gestational diabetes?

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Updated: 4/11/2007 2:46 pm
Diabetes that occurs as a result of pregnancy is known as gestational (jess-TAY-shun-ul) diabetes (die-uh-BEE-tees). Risk factors for this condition include obesity, a family history of diabetes, age over 25, or previously having a child who was very large, had birth defects, or was stillborn. Gestational diabetes is caused by a conflict between the mother's insulin, and hormones made in the placenta. These hormones keep your insulin from working properly, so excess sugar collects in the blood. Typically, this happens about 20 to 24 weeks into the pregnancy. Once the baby's born, the hormones leave your blood, so the condition usually goes away after pregnancy. However, women who've had gestational diabetes are at higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes later in life. Though gestational diabetes isn't too common, it's recommended that all pregnant women be screened for the disease. Should it be present, early treatment is the key to avoiding or managing complications. You'll need to follow a special diet, and perhaps an exercise plan. Sometimes, insulin is required. This form of diabetes can increase the chance of certain complications for you or the baby, but doesn't usually cause birth defects. In addition, your baby won't necessarily be born with diabetes, just because of your condition. For more information about gestational diabetes, speak to a health care specialist.
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