If you’re pregnant or trying to conceive, you may have heard a little about something called gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM). Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that develops during pregnancy, usually in the second or third trimester, because your body can’t produce sufficient insulin to meet the extra requirements of pregnancy. If GDM is detected during the first trimester of pregnancy, it’s likely that you had the condition before you became pregnant.
GDM is one of the most common complications that can occur during pregnancy, and when untreated can lead to complications such as premature delivery, pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure in mum), jaundice and respiratory distress. New research is now showing that there is also an increased likelihood of women with gestational diabetes developing type-2 diabetes after delivering their babies.
The study, published in The Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM), was conducted over a period of 7 years in South Korea and followed the lives of 843 women with GDM. Out of the 843 participants, 12.5% went on to develop type-2 diabetes within two months of their delivery date. Over the next decade, this figure continued to grow at a rate of 6.8% per year. The study concluded that up to half of gestational diabetes patients will develop type-2 diabetes.
Experts are concerned this problem is likely to get worse over the next few generations as women are generally waiting longer to have their babes, while an increasing number of them are obese at the beginning of their pregnancies. Aging and obesity are both risk factors in developing type-2 diabetes.
It’s crucial to diagnose and treat GDM. Milder cases can be tackled with diet and exercise, whilst moderate and severe cases will require some degree of medical intervention. If you’re planning to get pregnant, it may be wise to start cutting down on your sugar intake now and embarking on a sensible exercise regime. Preventative steps like these may reduce your chance of developing gestational diabetes during pregnancy and type-2 diabetes after delivery.