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A pregnant problem
Gestational diabetes is on the rise

By JEN HUNHOLZ

April 2015

With 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.

Consequently, 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.

Fortunately, 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/ or froedtert.com/maternal-fetal-care.

 







 


This story ran in the April 2015 issue of: