Gestational Diabetes in Moms over Forty
Gestational diabetes is also known as glucose intolerance of pregnancy and is generally a temporary condition which affects some two to four percent of all pregnancies. Doctors believe that the hormones produced in pregnancy may somehow block the normal action of insulin in the body. Women over forty have a 12% chance of developing gestational diabetes, while women under forty have only a 3% chance. The good news about gestational diabetes is that is it controllable through diet and exercise-by controlling the condition you greatly lessen your chances of negative consequences to mother or baby. If you are over forty and pregnant, your doctor will likely monitor you closely to watch for any sign of gestational diabetes.
Chances of Contracting Gestational Diabetes
Your age has a direct correlation on whether or not you will develop gestational diabetes, as does a family history of any type of diabetes. If you are overweight, and have a BMI which is greater than 29, you also stand a better chance of developing gestational diabetes. Further, if you had gestational diabetes in a previously pregnancy, or delivered a baby with a birth defect, or delivered a baby who weighed more than nine pounds your doctor will want to monitor your blood sugar closely. For reasons doctors do not understand, women who are Hispanic or African-American appear to have a higher rate of gestational diabetes.
Preventing Gestational Diabetes
If you are over forty, and especially if you are over forty and have any additional risk factors, you stand a fairly high likelihood of developing gestational diabetes during your pregnancy. The only way to significantly reduce this likelihood is to maintain a healthy weight both before and during pregnancy, get lots of regular physical activity, and maintain a healthy diet which is mostly whole foods. Most mothers who are diagnosed with gestational diabetes will get the diagnosis between their sixth and seventh month of pregnancy, which is generally when insulin resistance begins. If you are high risk, or your doctor has special concerns, he may order the test for gestational diabetes before you are even four months along.
Complications for Mom and Baby
It's important to manage your gestational diabetes to prevent further complications. Most commonly, moms with uncontrolled gestational diabetes may deliver an overly large, fat baby. The baby can also have birth trauma, prolonged jaundice, respiratory distress, low blood sugar, or low blood calcium. The dangers to mom from allowing gestational diabetes to be uncontrolled are a higher rate of infections, kidney or eye damage and even heart disease. As many as 40% of mothers who develop gestational diabetes while pregnant will go on to develop Type 2 diabetes later on in their life.
The Test for Gestational Diabetes
The test for gestational diabetes--called a glucose challenge test--while not painful, can be less than pleasant. You will be required to drink a glucose solution which tastes like pure sugar syrup, then will have a blood draw. An hour later, you will have another blood sample taken and analyzed, and if that reading is high, you may have to have a glucose tolerance test on a subsequent day.
Treatment for Gestational Diabetes
You will probably have to self-monitor your blood glucose levels from one to three times per day by pricking your finger and testing your blood with a special blood glucose meter. The goal will be to keep your blood glucose levels within the normal range, and while most women can accomplish this through a healthy diet and regular exercise, others may have to take insulin. You will be asked to severely limit your sweet intake, and to eat three small meals and three snacks per day. You will be required to monitor your carbohydrate intake, and to include extra fiber in the form of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. If you are vigilant in monitoring your blood glucose levels and following your doctor's instructions, you will likely have no ill-effects from your gestational diabetes and will be able to deliver a healthy baby.