What you need to know about gestational diabetes

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Many women giving birth in the UK have pregnancies complicated by gestational diabetes, according to new patient information published by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG).

This common condition requires close monitoring as gestational diabetes is associated with risks to the woman and her baby including the need for induced labour, caesarean section, stillbirth and other serious birth problems.

Gestational diabetes typically develops in the middle or towards the end of pregnancy. It is caused by the woman’s body not producing enough insulin to meet the extra needs of the pregnancy, resulting in high blood glucose.

The information explains why you may be at an increased risk of gestational diabetes and how to test for it. The key risk factors for developing gestational diabetes are:

  • High BMI (30 or higher)
  • Family history of diabetes
  • Previous occurrence of gestational diabetes
  • Previous birth of a large baby
  • Being of Chinese, African-Caribbean, South Asian or Middle Eastern decent

According to this new patient guidance, Gestational Diabetes: Information for you, gestational diabetes usually improves with a simple healthy eating plan and exercise although one in five women, despite their best efforts, will need to take tablets and/or give themselves insulin injections to control their blood glucose levels during pregnancy.

The guidance also looks at the extra care that a woman will receive in pregnancy as well as the timing of birth, mode of delivery, what happens after the birth, follow up and future pregnancies.

Chair of the RCOG’s Patient Information Committee, Philippa Marsden, said:

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“Most women who develop diabetes in pregnancy have healthy pregnancies and healthy babies but occasionally gestational diabetes can cause serious problems, especially if it goes unrecognised.

“Diagnosing and treating gestational diabetes reduces these risks.”

Cath Broderick, Chair of the RCOG Women’s Network added:

“The information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor or nurse but to help women understand the condition and make informed decisions about treatment.

“This information is written in an accessible way and covers many of the questions women will have, particularly about the monitoring and treatment of this common condition.”

Source: Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists

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Date Created: April 8, 2013