Gestational diabetes is blood sugar condition affecting pregnant women. Unlike Type I or Type II diabetes, gestational diabetes is not permanent, though mothers who develop it may be at a greater risk of developing Type II later on in life.
A recent study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, aimed to discover if there was a link between the development of gestational diabetes and cardiovascular disease. They found:
In this cohort study, with follow-up of nearly 90 000 US women older than 26 years, women with a history of gestational diabetes had 43% greater risk of CVD (myocardial infarction or stroke) compared with women without prior gestational diabetes, although absolute rates in this cohort were low. Adhering to healthy lifestyle factors over follow-up mitigated this modestly elevated risk.
What are the risk factors of developing gestational diabetes?
There is no one definitive risk, though women who developed the condition in a previous pregnancy may be more likely to develop it again. About five to six percent of pregnant women will develop the condition.
Women who are over the age of 25, in poor health, or are overweight are at a higher risk of developing the condition.
Risks to the baby
If managed, gestational diabetes does not necessarily lead to an unhealthy baby. However, there are a few complications that could lead to a birth injury, or affect the delivery.
- Premature birth. If the mother’s blood sugar is too high, she could deliver before the baby is fully developed. Preterm babies are at greater risk of developing respiratory distress syndrome, heart problems, jaundice, anemia, lung conditions, and other illnesses or injuries.
- Macrosomia means the baby is too big. If the baby is too large, he or she can become stuck in the birth canal. If doctors do not immediately prepare for a C-section, the child can suffer oxygen deprivation or other birth injuries.
- The baby could develop low blood sugar. In the most serious cases, the baby could suffer seizures as a result.
If you are pregnant, and your doctor believes you are at risk of developing gestational diabetes (or if you already have the condition), it is critical that your and your baby’s health are monitored carefully. Your doctors should advise you on steps to take to help protect yourself and the baby-to-be. Failure to do either of these could be grounds for a medical negligence claim.