Glucose Tolerance Test
If diabetes is left untreated, it can damage blood vessels, nerves, eyes and kidneys. Approximately 1 in 200 women of childbearing age has diabetes before getting pregnant (called preexisting diabetes). According to the March of Dimes, pregnant women with poorly controlled diabetes, especially preexisting diabetes, are at increased risk of certain pregnancy complications, including miscarriage, pregnancy-related high blood pressure, polyhydramnios (an excess of amniotic fluid, which can contribute to preterm labor), preterm delivery, serious birth defects, and stillbirth. High blood sugar in the first few weeks of pregnancy can increase the risk of birth defects, so early prenatal care is critical. However, the treatment of gestational diabetes has greatly improved and most women with the condition deliver healthy babies.
The biggest concern with gestational diabetes is that too much glucose will enter the baby’s bloodstream, causing it to gain too much weight, especially in the upper body, a condition called macrosomia. A macrosomic baby is too large to enter the birth canal, or the head may enter and the shoulders then get stuck. Your doctor will carefully monitor the size and health of your baby throughout your pregnancy, and especially during the third trimester. If your baby reaches a weight of 9 pounds, 14 ounces or more, your doctor may recommend you deliver by cesarean at term.
According to the March of Dimes, approximately 50 percent of women with gestational diabetes will develop it in future pregnancies, and 50 percent will develop type 2 diabetes within 5 years after delivery. Risk factors for future diabetes include:
- If you had very high blood sugar levels (especially if you needed insulin)
- Your diabetes was diagnosed early in your pregnancy
- The results of your postpartum glucose test were elevated, but not high enough to classify you as a diabetic.
Gestational diabetes is a serious risk to your health and that of your baby; however, with proper prenatal care, careful monitoring, and a healthy diet and exercise, you can ensure you and your baby will remain healthy.
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