Gestational Diabetes: Protecting Yourself and Your Baby
November is National Diabetes Month, a time when communities across the country team up to bring attention to diabetes and its impact on millions of Americans. Diabetes is a major health issue both because of the dangers it can levy on your health and its growing prevalence across our general population.
“Diabetes is the condition in which the body does not properly process food for use as energy,” according to the Centers for Disease Control. “Diabetes can cause serious health complications including heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, and lower-extremity amputations. Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.”
This year’s National Diabetes Month is focused on promoting health after gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that develops during pregnancy. Mothers who’ve had gestational diabetes need to know that they and their children have an increased lifelong risk for developing type 2 diabetes. It is the lifelong risk that is particularly onerous and why women should be particularly vigilant for themselves and their child.
The unfortunate element of gestational diabetes is that if there are any symptoms — and sometimes there are none — it is nothing more than being thirstier than usual or having to urinate more frequently. Factors that contribute to gestational diabetes include hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy, being overweight, and your genetic makeup.
Doctors will test for gestational diabetes between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy. The doctor will perform a glucose challenge test and an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT). If the glucose challenge test is high, your doctor will most likely have you return for an OGTT to confirm the diagnosis.
There is a way to manage and treat gestational diabetes. This includes a healthy eating plan and maintaining an active physical regimen. If these two approaches are ineffective, insulin treatment might be required.
It is possible to lower your chances of gestational diabetes by losing weight before pregnancy and by being active both before and after pregnancy.
What occurs after your baby is born? A mother is more likely to develop diabetes after gestational diabetes, and a child is more likely to develop type 2 diabetes by being overweight. Again, ensure that your child is active, eating a healthy diet, and being physically active.
Prevalence of Both Diagnosed and Undiagnosed Diabetes
- An estimated 30.3 million people of all ages—or 9.4% of the U.S. population—had diabetes in 2015.
- This total included 30.2 million adults aged 18 years or older (12.2% of all U.S. adults), of which 7.2 million (23.8%) were not aware of or did not report having diabetes.
- The percentage of adults with diabetes increased with age, reaching a high of 25.2% among those aged 65 years or older.
- Compared to non-Hispanic whites, the age-adjusted prevalence of diagnosed and undiagnosed diabetes was higher among Asians, non-Hispanic blacks and Hispanics during 2011–2014.
- Blacks are 1.7 times as likely to develop diabetes as whites.
- The prevalence of diabetes among blacks has quadrupled during the past 30 years.
- Among blacks age 20 and older, about 2.3 million have diabetes – 10.8 percent of that age group.
- Blacks with diabetes are more likely than non-Hispanic whites to develop diabetes and to experience greater disability from diabetes-related complications such as amputations, adult blindness, kidney failure, and increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
- Death rates for blacks with diabetes are 27 percent higher than for whites.
Source: National Diabetes Statistics Report, 2017; Centers for Disease Control.
If you have questions about whether you might have diabetes (and even if you don’t, there are no reliable telltale signs), you can take an easy 60-second Type 2 Diabetes risk test online. If you know of someone who is computer shy, especially a relative, help them with the simple test, available at American Diabetes Association.
Take the test. Protect yourself, your family and your children. While there is no cure for diabetes, you can manage it. And even though November is winding down, it’s the message that matters and one that should fit into your way of life. It begins with understanding if you are at risk and a commitment to a healthier lifestyle.
That’s my take, what’s yours?