In about 10 percent of pregnancies, the mother will develop gestational diabetes, a disease of high blood sugar that usually starts halfway through the pregnancy. It can result in complication for the mother and baby. Katie Gibas reports.
In about 10 percent of pregnancies, the mother will develop gestational diabetes, a disease of high blood sugar that usually starts halfway through the pregnancy.
"During pregnancy, the body is in a state of insulin resistance, so it's almost a stress test on the pancreas. So it can manifest for the first time," said Jennifer Kelly, DO, an Upstate Joslin Diabetes Center Endocrinologist
Janice Lea, MD, a Professor of Medicine at Emory University added, "You may have never thought that you would be at risk for this, and everyone is really at risk."
Doctors screen for gestational diabetes between 24 to 26 weeks. Symptoms include extreme thirst, frequent urination and unintentional weight loss.
"Unfortunately, it's a very huge problem, and a lot of times it goes undiagnosed, and then people end up with complications before they even know they've had the disorder for some time," said Kelly.
The concern with gestational diabetes is the effects it can have on the baby, including the likelihood that the child will develop diabetes later in life.
"The risk for the baby is that they will get that transfer of that high insulin production and it causes excessive growth, so the babies will be large, but they may not particularly develop as well as they should internally as far as their organs," said Lea.
Even though gestational diabetes usually goes away after pregnancy, doctors say having it once can increase your risk for getting it again in subsequent pregnancies, and it can also increase your risk for type 2 diabetes.
"It always comes down to diet and exercise. That's the best prevention. And prior to a pregnancy, just trying to stay at an idea weight is very helpful, and so if this does happen, just to try to stay on top of it. For the most part it does go away after. Just keep in int he future, the higher risk," said Kelly.
Once someone has had gestational diabetes, there's a two out of three chance they'll get it with future pregnancies. And estimates show between 30 percent and 60 percent of women who have had it will develop type 2 diabetes later in life. So experts recommend patients be especially careful with their diet and exercise to reduce their risk.