Gestational Diabetes

Nationwide Cerebral Palsy Resource Network

Gestational diabetes is one of the most common health conditions that may arise during pregnancy. Overall, between 2 and 10 percent of pregnant women are diagnosed with this form of diabetes, which occurs when you have abnormally high levels of sugar in your blood.

Generally speaking, gestational diabetes is a rather complicated disorder, which if left undiagnosed or untreated, could have serious and life threatening consequences to you and your unborn child. If a medical professional failed to help you maintain your blood sugar level during pregnancy, please call (800)462-5772 to discuss your case for free. Stern Law, PLLC has more than 30 years of experience with birth injury litigation.

What causes gestational diabetes?

When you eat, your digestive system breaks down food into glucose, a sugar that serves as a primary energy source for most cells in the body, including those in the brain. Once broken down, the glucose enters your bloodstream. With the help of insulin, a hormone secreted by the pancreas, the glucose is converted into fuel. If your body does not produce enough insulin as a result of diabetes, too much glucose will remain in your blood, preventing it from being converted into energy.

During pregnancy, hormonal fluctuations may make your body less responsive to insulin, which does not always present a serious problem. Oftentimes, your body is able to self-regulate during pregnancy to restore normal blood sugar levels within the healthy target range. A normal range is between 7- and 100 mg/dL on a fasting blood glucose test.

For some expectant mothers, complications may arise. If your body is unable to compensate for the inhibited insulin levels caused by your pregnancy, you may be a risk for developing gestational diabetes. This condition requires regular monitoring, diet and exercise to keep your blood sugar levels within the above range.

What are the symptoms of gestational diabetes?

Women who are diagnosed with gestational diabetes often display little to no symptoms. Generally, pregnant women receive a glucose screening test between the 24th and 28th week of pregnancy. Those who may be at a higher risk for gestational diabetes or who manifest certain signs of the condition often receive the test earlier than the 24th week and should continue to be monitored in this regard.

If you receive a positive result on your initial glucose-screening test, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you definitively have gestational diabetes. It does require, however, that you submit to a more comprehensive follow-up test known as a glucose tolerance test, or GTT, to determine whether you truly have the condition or not.

Gestational diabetes is generally asymptomatic.  Some pregnant women experience the following symptoms, especially when their blood sugar reaches dangerously high levels for a prolonged period of time:

  • Blurred vision;
  • Fatigue;
  • Frequent urination;
  • Increased sensation of thirst;
  • Frequent vaginal, bladder and skin infections;
  • Nausea;
  • Vomiting;
  • Inexplicable weight loss despite increased appetite.

While the presence of the above issues may be indicative of a potential problem, it’s important to remember that pregnant women often experience a long list of normal symptoms that may mirror those associated with gestational diabetes.  Many pregnant women complain of being nauseous – especially during the first trimester. They may have to urinate more frequently, and feel overtired. Regardless of the circumstances, you should always consult with your doctor to make sure that your symptoms are not of a more serious nature.

Am I at risk for developing gestational diabetes?

Some women are at a greater risk than others for developing gestational diabetes. If you experience any unusual symptoms, you should be screened as soon as possible. According to the American Diabetes Association, you are considered at a heightened risk of being diagnosed with gestational diabetes if you:

  • Have a significant family history of diabetes;
  • Were diagnosed with gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy;
  • Are excessively overweight, with a body mass index of 30 or more;
  • Have a history of smoking;
  • Are over the age of 35;
  • Have high blood pressure;
  • Have sugar in your urine, whether before or during pregnancy;
  • Have previously delivered a stillborn child for inexplicable reasons;
  • Have previously given birth to a child with birth defects;
  • Have an overly large baby, exceeding 8 pounds;
  • Are a member of a racial or ethnic group with a high prevalence of diabetes, including people of Hispanic, African, Native American, South or East Asian, Pacific Island, and indigenous Australian ancestry.

What is the treatment for gestational diabetes?

Some women who are diagnosed with gestational diabetes are able to control their blood sugar levels by making simple changes in their diet and remaining physically active during their pregnancy. These measures may help prevent diabetes from reoccurring in future pregnancies and also later in life.

Women with more severe forms of gestational diabetes may require additional measures to regulate their blood sugar, such as medication and regular insulin injections. Treatment for gestational diabetes also includes regularly checking in with your doctor and monitoring your blood sugar levels on a daily basis.

For more information about your legal options, please call Stern Law, PLLC at (800)462-5772 to discuss your birth injury case for free.