How diabetes in pregnant women is dangerous to the baby?

Blood sugar usually spikes in women in the 24th and 25th week of pregnancy due to various factors and this condition of high blood glucose level in pregnant women is known as gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM).

If a woman develops gestational diabetes that doesn’t mean she had diabetes earlier, but it enhances the probability of getting her type 2 diabetes in the future.

Unlike type 1 diabetes, gestational diabetes is not an autoimmune disease but very much similar to type 2 diabetes which is a metabolic disorder.

Gestational diabetes poses various threat to the development of the fetus as well as can lead to a fat baby. In this article, we will discuss the ways gestational diabetes or diabetes in a pregnant women can affect the baby.

In his article, we will discuss How diabetes in pregnant women is dangerous to the baby?


Why blood sugar spike during pregnancy in women?

During pregnancy, a small increase in blood glucose level is quite normal because during pregnancy the body becomes slightly insulin resistant to keep the blood sugar level little high to make sure enough glucose passes on the baby.

Another reason contributing to the high glucose level is rise in human placental lactogen (hPL) level and hormones that increase insulin resistance. These hormones are released to keep the pregnancy safe.

However, with time the level of these hormones increases beyond the limit causing insulin resistance and ultimately gestational diabetes.


How diabetes in pregnant women is dangerous to the baby?

According to a study, when a fetus is exposed to gestational diabetes, it may lead to the development of hypertension and cardiovascular diseases in the newborn baby.

The Mechanism involved in causing this is due to impairment of the line of cells that cause the development of the vascular system in the fetus.

It also impairs endothelial colony forming cells (ECFCs), that plays a crucial role in the development of the vascular system in a fetus.

Previously it was found that the ECFCs which were exposed to high blood glucose had low blood vessel forming capabilities.

Transgelin is a protein which is overly expressed in gestational diabetes. It was found that the increased expression of transgelin protein in gestational diabetes reduces the blood vessel forming capabilities of ECFCs.

When blood samples were taken from the umbilical cord of diabetic mother and compared with a blood sample taken from non-diabetic mother.

The blood sample taken from diabetic mother showed a higher level of transgelin which clearly indicate the impairment in the formation of healthy blood cells.

These cells play a significant role in the development of blood vessels, helps healing wounds and overall function of the cardiovascular system.

In the absence of healthy ECFCs, the healthy blood vessel formation in the fetus is impaired leading to the causation of cardiovascular diseases in the later life of the baby.

When the blood glucose level is much higher in the pregnant mother, more glucose pass on to the fetus. This result in an increased insulin secretion by the pancreas of the baby to use up available glucose.

This imparts more weight to the baby resulting in an overweight baby, usually, the upper body part of the baby is large in size and the condition is medically called as macrosomia. Due to the bigger size of the baby, sometimes C- section is required to deliver the baby.

Sometime the baby may born with low blood sugar or hypoglycemia. It’s due to high insulin secretion in response to elevated blood glucose level in blood.

On prolonged higher insulin level the blood glucose level goes down and the baby becomes hypoglycemic. Moreover, the newborn baby may be at the risk of jaundice. It’s the yellow discolouration of the skin and eyes due to excessive bilirubin, a yellow colour pigment of blood cells.

Overweight of the baby leads to dystocia. The should of the baby get stuck during delivery due to its unusual big size.

A very rare case in gestational diabetes, a normal delivery happens. Most of the time the C-Section or cesarean delivery is done which depends upon the need of the situation.

If the gestational diabetes is not controlled with medication with doctor consultation, serious complications can be seen in the newborn baby.

In the case of gestational diabetes, the lung of the fetus is matured later as compared to women who are non-diabetic. If the baby borns prematurely then the baby may suffer from respiratory issues due to the immature respiratory system.

If the blood glucose level is not controlled properly during gestational diabetes, the newborn baby might be born with polycythemia, hypocalcemia.

Polycythemia is a condition of high no blood cells, whereas hypocalcemia refers to low calcium level. Both of these conditions may lead to multiple severe medical conditions.

Obese gestational diabetic mother is at a higher risk of developing preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a medical condition of high blood pressure and fluid retention.

If the patient is not treated, the patient may develop life-threatening eclampsia.


Read this article: What happens to your feet and toe when you have diabetes?


How can we prevent gestational diabetes?

There is a common saying, ‘prevention is better than cure’. It doesn’t matter if anyone is going to develop gestational diabetes or not, but adopting precaution is the right way to deal with it. Following are the precautions that anyone with gestational diabetes should follow:

  1. The best way to deal with any condition during diabetes is to be prepared with it and stay healthy.
  2. Go for a walk everyday morning to keep your body fit, or do some kind of simple drill every day. If you can reduce a few pounds with a workout, it’s going to make a huge difference.
  3. Cut off unhealthy fast foods, high-calorie diet and eat healthy fruits and vegetables low in carbohydrates.
  4. Make an appointment with the doctor to ask for his recommendation regarding food and exercise.
  5. Keep monitoring your blood glucose level if it’s not so high.

Post Gestational diabetes monitoring

Gestational diabetes goes away once the pregnancy is over and the mother delivers the baby. The doctor will ask you to check the blood glucose level 2 to 3 weeks after delivery.

If the blood glucose level is still high long after delivery, chances are high that you have type 2 diabetes. Even if your blood glucose has come back normal, it’s always recommended to check the blood glucose level once or twice a year.

It is because women with gestational diabetes are more prone to develop type 2 diabetes later in their life.

Check out this article: signs of pregnancy


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