- According to
the CDC, diabetes during pregnancy has increased over the past several years. Between 2000 and 2010, the percentage of people with gestational diabetes increased by 56 percent.
- Researchers have discovered that specific diabetic protein precursors were found early in pregnancy and those who had them had a higher chance of developing type 1 diabetes later in life.
- Diabetes during pregnancy can increase the risk of birth defects, stillbirths, and preterm births. Having good glucose management can decrease the risk of needing a C-section or having a baby that’s too large.
Gestational diabetes is diabetes that develops during pregnancy. This type of diabetes is common and affects millions of people each year.
New research suggests that many people who experience gestational diabetes will go on to develop diabetes later in life outside of pregnancy — and there may be early markers to predict it.
Researchers from Helsinki University Hospital assessed 391 women who gave birth between 1984 and 1994 at Oulu University Hospital and developed gestational diabetes.
The researchers discovered that specific autoantibodies, or diabetic protein precursors, were found early in pregnancy and those who had them had a higher chance of developing type 1 diabetes later in life.
Women who had gestational diabetes also had a significantly higher chance of developing type 2 diabetes.
In the study, researchers used follow-up questionnaires in 2012–2013, an average of 23 years later. They found that 5.7 percent of those who had gestational diabetes went on to develop type 1 diabetes. Further, 50.4 percent developed type 2 diabetes, many times within 5 to 10 years after delivery.
Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy in people who haven’t already been diagnosed with diabetes. It’s usually temporary but affects between
When the body can’t make enough insulin in pregnancy, gestational diabetes occurs. During pregnancy, the body creates more hormones which allow the body to go through multiple changes, including weight gain.
“Placental hormones that are normal and increase throughout pregnancy increase the amount of insulin resistance in all patients which most tolerate without a problem and are able to maintain normal glucose levels,” said Dr. Shane Wasden, director of labor and delivery at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
“However, patients with an underlying predilection for diabetes tolerate this increasing insulin resistance less well and develop elevated blood sugars (hyperglycemia),” Wasden said.
According to the CDC, recent studies have shown that between 2000–2010, the percentage of people with gestational diabetes has increased 56 percent.
Diabetes during pregnancy can increase birth complications such as defects, stillbirths, and preterm births. Having good glucose management can decrease your chances of needing a C-section or having a baby that’s born too large.
In many situations, gestational diabetes is temporary and usually ends shortly after the baby is born.
In 1980, there were approximately 108 million people who had diabetes. The
There are three primary types of diabetes. Besides gestational diabetes, the other types include:
- Type 1 diabetes, when the body can’t produce enough insulin naturally. It’s usually discovered early in life.
- Type 2 diabetes, when the body produces insulin but doesn’t use it well.
Symptoms of diabetes are often the same, regardless of type. While not everyone will have all of these symptoms, some to look out for include:
- excessive thirst
- increased urination
- blurry vision
- numbness and tingling in the hands or feet
- excessive fatigue
- overly dry skin
- extreme hunger
- slow-healing sores
Many people who have gestational diabetes don’t have any symptoms and it’s only discovered through routine testing.
Even if you’re both healthy and active, not everyone can prevent gestational diabetes.
“Some patients, despite optimal lifestyle changes, will not be able to prevent gestational diabetes from happening,” Wasden told Healthline.
“Lifestyle changes such as a healthy diet, regular exercise, and weight loss (if appropriate) will reduce the risk of gestational diabetes and diabetes. Making some of these changes before conceiving will also help reduce the risk of other pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia, preterm delivery, placental insufficiency, and fetal growth issues,” he continued.
Dr. Mona Mashayekhi, clinical instructor and post-doctoral fellow in the division of diabetes, endocrinology, and metabolism at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said that you can adjust for some of the factors that cause diabetes but not all of them.
“Much of what causes diabetes, including gestational diabetes, is related to genetics and cannot be modified. Obesity is the biggest modifiable contributor to developing diabetes,” Mashayekhi added.
Mashayekhi believes if you take the appropriate measures in early pregnancy, you have an opportunity to lower your risk.
“Starting each pregnancy at a healthy weight may lower the risk of developing gestational diabetes. Weight loss is of course extremely difficult, and some women may benefit from meeting with weight loss specialists to help them achieve their goals,” Mashayekhi said.
Health experts recommend that people who are pregnant get tested for gestational diabetes to protect them and the baby’s health.
Gestational diabetes traditionally develops around the 24th week of pregnancy so many obstetricians usually test between the 24th and 28th week of pregnancy. However, those with a higher risk for gestational diabetes may be tested earlier.
Mashayekhi advises: “It’s important for women with a history of gestational diabetes to plan future pregnancies carefully with their provider. They need to be screened to ensure they have normal blood sugars before getting pregnant, and they need to be monitored for developing gestational diabetes earlier on in pregnancy.”
Rajiv Bahl, MD, MBA, MS, is an emergency medicine physician and health writer. You can find him at www.RajivBahlMD.com.