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Gestational Diabetes Treatment

Treatment for gestational diabetes varies. Please consult a doctor before treating diabetes.

Treatment for Women

Specific treatment for gestational diabetes will be determined by your doctor based on:

  • Your age, overall health, and medical history
  • Extent of the allergy
  • Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
  • Your opinion or preference

Treatment for gestational diabetes focuses on keeping blood glucose levels in the normal range. Treatment may include:

  • Special diet
  • Exercise
  • Daily blood glucose monitoring
  • Insulin injections

Possible complications for the baby

Unlike type 1 diabetes, gestational diabetes generally does not cause birth defects. Birth defects usually originate sometime during the first trimester (before the 13th week) of pregnancy. The insulin resistance from the contra-insulin hormones produced by the placenta does not usually occur until approximately the 24th week. Women with gestational diabetes mellitus generally have normal blood sugar levels during the critical first trimester.

Infants of mothers with gestational diabetes are vulnerable to several chemical imbalances, such as low serum calcium and low serum magnesium levels, but, in general, there are two major problems of gestational diabetes: macrosomia and hypoglycemia.

  • Macrosomia. Macrosomia refers to a baby who is considerably larger than normal. All of the nutrients the fetus receives come directly from the mother's blood. If the maternal blood has too much glucose, the pancreas of the fetus senses the high glucose levels and produces more insulin in an attempt to use this glucose. The fetus converts the extra glucose to fat. Even when the mother has gestational diabetes, the fetus is able to produce all the insulin it needs. The combination of high blood glucose levels from the mother and high insulin levels in the fetus results in large deposits of fat which causes the fetus to grow excessively large.

  • Hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia refers to low blood sugar in the baby immediately after delivery. This problem occurs if the mother's blood sugar levels have been consistently high, causing the fetus to have a high level of insulin in its circulation. After delivery, the baby continues to have a high insulin level, but it no longer has the high level of sugar from its mother, resulting in the newborn's blood sugar level becoming very low. The baby's blood sugar level is checked after birth, and if the level is too low, it may be necessary to give the baby glucose intravenously.

The complications of gestational diabetes are usually manageable and preventable. The key to prevention is careful control of blood sugar levels just as soon as the diagnosis of diabetes is made.

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