gestational diabetes on the rise, how can a woman prevent a diagnosis?
And if she canít, what does a diagnosis mean for her and her baby?
A 2014 study by
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the
prevalence of gestational diabetes is now as high as 9.2 percent ó a
statistic signifying that nearly one out of every 10 pregnant women
are affected by the disease. Medically speaking, a gestational
diabetes diagnosis is given to women who develop diabetes during their
pregnancy and is typically confirmed at the 26- to 28-week mark.
Insulin receptors are no longer functioning properly, and blood
glucose (sugar) levels are dangerously high, affecting the health of
both the mother and the baby.
monitoring a patientís sugar levels and keeping those levels
well-controlled are critical, says Dr. Meredith Cruz, a maternal fetal
care specialist at Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsinís
Maternal Fetal Care Center. "The main risk and why we want good
control is that women with gestational diabetes are at risk for having
larger babies." Having a larger baby may lead to birth
complications, like putting an infant born by vaginal delivery at risk
for shoulder distortia, so a C-section is often recommended. Cruz adds
that women who enter their pregnancies as Type 2 diabetics receive
similar treatment and care.
So why the rise?
The answer can be attributed to multiple causes. "There is an
increase in the number of women that are delaying childbearing because
of career choices," explains Cruz. "A placental hormone is
released in some pregnant women age 35 or older that repels insulin,
which could lead to diabetes." Obesity is also a leading cause,
adds Cruz ó an explanation supported by the alarming fact that,
according to recent findings from the Journal of American Medical
Association, more than one-third of adults in the U.S. are obese.
The good news,
however, is that prevention is possible. As with many disease
preventative measures, Cruz says that a good diet and exercise are key
in inhibiting the development of gestational diabetes. She notes that
a gestational diabetes diagnosis does not mean a life-long Type 2
diabetes diagnosis, but that women should attend a two-hour glucose
screening three months after they deliver, which detects if the
diabetes is cleared from their system. "Some women might be
living with Type 2 diabetes and not know it," says Cruz. Although
a small percentage of women are able to manage the disease with diet
and exercise, remaining unaware of a Type 2 diabetes diagnosis is a
risky practice, and the screening is strongly encouraged.
women diagnosed with gestational diabetes can take comfort in knowing
that resources are readily available right here in Milwaukee. The
Maternal Fetal Care Center at the Froedtert & the Medical College
of Wisconsin is the first of its kind in the city ó a one-stop-shop
of sorts where pregnant women can receive comprehensive care for their
OB and diabetic needs in a single clinic location. Wheaton Franciscan
Healthcare also offers an outpatient self-management program
nationally recognized by the American Diabetes Association. Program
services include educational discussions, lifestyle counseling and
more. For more information, go to mywheaton.org/services/diabetes/treatment/