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Gestational Diabetes 101

Learn about the common condition, and what it means for you and your baby.

Pregnant Woman at the doctors
Jul 7 2017

Pregnancy is full of exciting new experiences for parents—hearing your baby’s heartbeat, feeling those first flutters and picking out names. But preparing for your first glucose challenge test may raise some questions and concerns.  

Learn what a gestational diabetes diagnosis could really mean, how to reduce your overall risk and, most importantly, how to keep both you and your baby happy and healthy through it all.

What is Gestational Diabetes?
Today, gestational diabetes affects one in 10 pregnant women. But just because it’s more common doesn’t mean it’s no big deal.

After all, gestational diabetes can put both mom and baby’s health at risk through increasing the risk of preeclampsia, jaundice, breathing problems and high birth weights. Gestational diabetes also puts mom at an increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later on, explains Karmeen Kulkarni, MS, RD, CDE, BC-ADM, director of scientific affairs for Abbott's diabetes business.

Many moms often feel surprised and overwhelmed at the news, but gestational diabetes can happen even in those women with a healthy lifestyle. That’s because, during pregnancy, hormones can reduce the body’s responsiveness to insulin. It is the main hormone that helps deliver sugar, or glucose, from your bloodstream and into your body’s cells for energy, says Christina Sherry, PhD, RD, a nutrition scientist with Abbott. Having polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or a family history of Type 2 diabetes also increases the risk of developing gestational diabetes.

How a Glucose Challenge Test Works
About 24 to 28 weeks into your pregnancy, your physician will perform a simple blood test to get a picture of how your body reacts to insulin. If she detects a high blood sugar level, your physician will recommend further evaluation. This involves performing a similar test in which your blood sugar is tested every hour for three hours after drinking the sugary solution. Based on the results, your doctor will determine if you have gestational diabetes.

While it’s easy to approach the test with apprehension, it’s important to remember that your results are an important tool in helping you move forward with your pregnancy in the healthiest way possible—for both you and your baby. 

Learn more. Read five diet and lifestyle tips from our experts on staying healthy during your pregnancy:

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