What Is Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM)?
What is GDM?
Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM) is a condition during pregnancy resulting in high blood sugar levels. According to a recent study conducted on 1200 pregnant women in Singapore, preliminary findings show that it may occur as frequently as 1 in 5 pregnancies1.
Insulin is a hormone that helps to regulate our blood sugar levels. During the late stage of pregnancy, the placenta produces hormones that can affect the action of insulin. In addition, mothers who are overweight and obese tend to be less responsive to insulin. These factors result in some women having higher than normal blood sugar levels.
GDM usually disappears after the baby is born but it may recur in subsequent pregnancies. Women with GDM are also at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
Your physician will advise if you need to be screened for GDM. The screening is usually done between 24 and 28 weeks of gestation as this is when GDM becomes manifest2.
What are the symptoms of GDM?
Women with GDM may experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- Increased hunger and thirst
- Frequent urination
- Feeling tired and fatigued
- Weight loss despite increased appetite
- Blurred vision
How does GDM affect you and your baby?
With proper dietary and medical management to keep your sugar levels under control, most mothers with GDM will have healthy pregnancies and healthy babies.
Uncontrolled GDM increases the likelihood of certain health conditions for both mother and baby3:
- Delivery complications due to overweight baby
- Pre-term delivery
- Low blood sugar of new born at birth
- Jaundice in new born
- Breathing problems in new born
- C-section delivery
Women with GDM are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes during their lifetime. Babies whose mothers have GDM are also more at risk of obesity and diabetes in their adulthood.
Managing your GDM risk
If you are planning to conceive, maintaining your weight within the healthy range (BMI 18.5 kg/m2 – 22.9 kg/m2) may help reduce your risk of GDM. Women who are overweight and obese prior to pregnancy are more likely to develop GDM.
During pregnancy, ensure that you are eating a healthy balanced diet with plenty of vegetables and whole grains e.g. brown rice, multi-grain bread. Do limit your intake of sugary foods and beverages as these contribute to high blood sugar levels4.
Foods high in fat and calories can lead to excessive weight gain during pregnancy and should also be limited.
If you are at risk of GDM, please consult with your physician.
To find out whether you are at risk of gestational diabetes, take a simple GDM risk assessmenthere
1. GUSTO Study, 2012; http://yourhealth.asiaone.com/content/one-5-mums-be-may-develop-diabetes
2. Ray R et al, Ann Acad Med Singapore. 1996 July; 25(4): 504-8
3. American Diabetes Association; Diabetes Basics;http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/gestational/what-is-gestational-diabetes.html
4. Moses RG, Diabetes Care. 2009; 32(12): 2314-15
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