Gestational diabetes is high blood sugar that only occurs during pregnancy. It is estimated that anywhere from 3 to 8% of women will develop this condition during their pregnancy. Gestational diabetes is a serious health problem and poses a risk to both the mother and the child. Babies who are born to mothers with gestational diabetes are more likely to be very large and have breathing problems. Women who have gestational diabetes are more likely to develop high blood pressure and require a c-section. Studies have also shown that women who have diabetes during pregnancy are more likely to develop Type II diabetes later in life. Women who have a family history of diabetes are more likely to develop it during their pregnancy. Additional risk factors include: being overweight, being over the age of 25, being of African American, Asian or Pacific-Islander descent and having a history of gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy.
It is important that all pregnant women start receiving prenatal care as soon as they are pregnant. If a woman happens to develop gestational diabetes, there is a lower risk of complications if it is detected early. Many women with this condition have to take insulin to control their blood sugar level. Others are able to manage this condition with eating a well-balanced diet and being physically active. There is no sure-fire way to prevent getting gestational diabetes. However, it is important to note that women who practice a healthy lifestyle before getting pregnant are much less likely to have complications. For that reason, women who are planning to become pregnant need to make sure that they exercise, eat right and avoid the use of drugs and alcohol. They should also see their doctors to see if they are at an increased risk of developing diabetes.