Diagnosed with gestational diabetes?

Follow these tips for diabetes prevention beyond delivery.

The official medical term for diabetes is Diabetes Mellitus. For women diagnosed with diabetes during pregnancy it’s called Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM).

According to  National Institutes of Health gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is defined as carbohydrate intolerance leading to hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) with onset or first recognition during pregnancy. Both hormonal changes and weight are factors in the diagnosis.

In the United States, gestational diabetes is reported in somewhere between 2 and 10 percent of pregnancies, but it is now believed that the condition affects 18 percent of women in pregnancy.

Pregnancy testing reveals Gestational Diabetes Mellitus

Testing for GDM is most commonly done about half-way through the pregnancy at 24-28 weeks (unless other symptoms or indicators are present). A GDM diagnosis is determined when one or more of the following tests reveal elevated blood (sugar) glucose:

  • Fasting glucose is 92 mg/dl or higher
  • One-hour OGTT (oral glucose tolerance test) is 180 mg/dl or higher
  • Two-hour OGTT (oral glucose tolerance test) is 153 mg/dl or higher
The risk of diabetes after delivery

Most women will go on to regain normal blood glucose after their pregnancy is over. Studies by the American Diabetes Association indicate once you've had GDM your chances are 2 in 3 that it will return in future pregnancies. Women who have had GDM are more than 7 times as likely to develop type 2 diabetes as women who didn't have diabetes in pregnancy.

A diabetes prevention plan now can reduce or delay your risk for developing Type 2 diabetes. Being tested by a healthcare provider is the only way to know if you have pre-diabetes or diabetes.

  • Diabetes prevention for your baby: The fact that you have gestational diabetes will not cause diabetes in your baby. It is important to make sure your history of gestational diabetes is in your child’s health record. Just like any other health issue that affects your unborn child during your pregnancy it’s important that you share your gestational diagnosis with your child’s pediatrician or healthcare provider.
  • Follow-up testing: Get tested for diabetes 6 to 12 weeks after your baby is born. If the blood glucose test is normal, get tested every 3 years. According to the National Institutes of Health, normal blood glucose range is:
    • Fasting glucose is less than 100 mg/dl
    • Oral glucose is less than 140 mg/dl
  • Future pregnancies and your risk of GDM: Although there is no absolute way to prevent gestational diabetes during your next pregnancy, ask your healthcare provider how you can decrease your risk. Keeping your weight and your blood sugar in a normal range before your next pregnancy is important.
Create a diabetes prevention checklist:

Prevention tips include,

  • Eat a well-balanced diet: Being mindful to control calories and sodium. Monitor your intake of unhealthy fats and carbohydrates
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Strive for 150 minutes of physical activity each week
  • Continue with yearly routine healthcare visits that include diabetes screening
  • Join a National Diabetes Prevention Program (NDPP) in your community. The NDPP was created by a team of researchers at the Center for Disease & Prevention to help prevent or delay diabetes. Women who have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes are automatically eligible for the program.

For more information on diabetes, or to locate a diabetes workshop in your community visit Michigan State University Extension

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