Gestational Diabetes

Karachi, November 19, 2020 (PPI-OT): Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM) is a type of diabetes that develops for the first time during pregnancy, when hormonal changes in the body affect insulin. This, in turn, causes the expectant mother’s blood sugar levels to hike. It is not an uncommon occurrence during pregnancy; approximately 10 to 12 percent of pregnant women in Pakistan suffer from it. GDM increases the risk for these women developing Type 2 diabetes in the future, even though blood sugar may return to normal soon after delivery.

Causes and Risk Factors of Gestational Diabetes

There are no known causes of this condition. However, expectant mothers should be cautious of certain risk factors which may increase their chances of developing the condition:

Being overweight – Body Mass Index (BMI) is greater than 23.

Family history of diabetes.

Personal history of gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy.

History of previously delivering an overweight baby weighing more than 4 kg

Suffering from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).

Gestational Diabetes Delivery and the Newborn’s Health

High blood sugar levels, if left unmonitored, can affect pregnancy and the baby’s health. The following complications develop often if sugar levels are not managed and controlled timely:

Premature delivery

Increased chances of cesarean section or traumatic vaginal delivery

Baby can be overweight.

Baby can have difficulty breathing after birth

Excess production of insulin in babies in response to the mother’s high blood sugar level.

After delivery, the high amount of insulin in babies can cause their blood glucose levels to go down dramatically.

Neonatal jaundice.

Managing Blood Sugar Levels During Pregnancy

Expectant mothers with the diagnosis of GDM are advised ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle and diet throughout the pregnancy period. They may also require insulin therapy or oral medicines to control their blood sugar level.

Diet and Activities Recommended for Women with Gestational Diabetes

Eating healthy, including eating five servings of fruit/vegetables a day

Maintaining a balanced diet of three meals and three snacks

Avoiding sugary foods such as juices, desserts or bakery items

Exercising regularly, including moderate aerobics, or walk for 20 to 30 minutes daily.

Planning Future Pregnancies

If someone has had Gestational Diabetes in previous pregnancies, it increases their chances of developing it again in future pregnancies. Therefore, they are recommended to meet their doctor when planning the next pregnancy, so that all necessary guidance and direction is provided for a safe and healthy pregnancy.

Combined Maternal Diabetes (CMD) Clinic

At the Aga Khan University Hospital, mothers with Gestational Diabetes are referred to our Combined Maternal Diabetes (CMD) Clinic. The main purpose of this clinic is to help pregnant women with diabetes optimise sugar control during pregnancy and promote successful pregnancy outcomes. CMD clinic caters to those women who are either diagnosed with diabetes during pregnancy or already have diabetes and are planning to get pregnant.

The clinic is staffed by diabetologists, maternal medicine consultants, and other doctors and nursing staff who have a special interest and training in the management of diabetes during pregnancy. The primary consultant will assess and refer patients to CMD clinic, as and when necessary.

For more information, contact:
The Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH)
Stadium Road, P.O. Box 3500, Karachi – 74800, Pakistan
Tel: +92-21-3493-0051
Fax: +92-21-34934294, +92-21-34932095