What Causes Gestational Diabetes?

What Causes Gestational Diabetes
What Causes Gestational Diabetes? – Gestational diabetes occurs when your body can’t make enough insulin during your pregnancy. Insulin is a hormone made by your pancreas that acts like a key to let blood sugar into the cells in your body for use as energy.

During pregnancy, your body makes more hormones and goes through other changes, such as weight gain. These changes cause your body’s cells to use insulin less effectively, a condition called insulin resistance, Insulin resistance increases your body’s need for insulin. All pregnant women have some insulin resistance during late pregnancy.

However, some women have insulin resistance even before they get pregnant. They start pregnancy with an increased need for insulin and are more likely to have gestational diabetes. About 50% of women with gestational diabetes go on to develop type 2 diabetes, but there are steps you can take to prevent it.

What puts you at risk for gestational diabetes?

Risk factors – Risk factors for gestational diabetes include:

Being overweight or obese Not being physically active Having prediabetes Having had gestational diabetes during a previous pregnancy Having polycystic ovary syndrome Having an immediate family member with diabetes Having previously delivered a baby weighing more than 9 pounds (4.1 kilograms) Being of a certain race or ethnicity, such as Black, Hispanic, American Indian and Asian American

Is gestational diabetes caused by poor diet?

Summary – Diet composition may be a modifiable predictor of risk for abnormal glucose tolerance during pregnancy. Prior studies suggest that diets high in total fat, saturated fat, red and processed meats, and with high glycaemic load increase the risk of developing gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), while polyunsaturated fats, carbohydrates and fibre are protective.

  1. The aim of this study was to investigate associations of these and other nutrients and foods, including n-3 fatty acids, trans fats, whole grains and dietary patterns, with risk of GDM.
  2. We studied 1733 women with singleton pregnancies enrolled in Project Viva, a prospective pregnancy and birth cohort study in eastern MA.

Using multinomial logistic regression, we examined associations of first trimester diet, assessed by validated food frequency questionnaire, with results of glucose tolerance testing at 26−28 weeks of gestation. A total of 91 women developed GDM and 206 women had impaired glucose tolerance (IGT).

  • Pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI) was a strong predictor for GDM risk (OR 3.44 for pre-pregnancy BMI ≥30 vs.2 ).
  • After adjustment for confounders, the OR for risk of GDM for total dietary fat was 1.00, for saturated fat 0.98, for polyunsaturated fat 1.09, for trans fat 0.87, and for carbohydrates 1.00 per each 1% of total energy.

The adjusted OR for risk of GDM for a one standard deviation increase in energy-adjusted glycaemic load (32 units, about two soft drinks) was 0.96 and for each daily serving of whole grains was 0.90, Dietary patterns and intake of red and processed meats were not predictive of glucose tolerance outcome.

  • Estimates for IGT were similar to those for GDM.
  • Intake of n-3 fatty acids was associated with increased GDM risk (OR 1.11 per each 300 mg/day), but not with IGT risk.
  • Except for this finding, perhaps due to chance, these data do not show that nutrient or food intake in early pregnancy is linked to risk of GDM.

Nutritional status entering pregnancy, as reflected by pre-pregnancy BMI, is probably more important than pregnancy diet in development of GDM. Keywords: gestational diabetes, impaired glucose tolerance, maternal pre-pregnancy BMI, maternal diet, omega-3 fatty acids

Does drinking water help prevent gestational diabetes?

Think about what you drink – It’s important to think about what you’re drinking as well as what you’re eating. Try to avoid sugary drinks. Diet or sugar-free drinks are better than sugary versions (although these have no nutritional value). Fruit juices and smoothies can also be high in sugar, and so can drinks labelled as ‘no added sugar’.

  • Check the nutrition label or ask your healthcare team if you’re unsure.
  • I had a bizarre craving for fresh orange juice when I was pregnant.
  • But when I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes my midwife advised me to cut it out because of the sugar content.” Alison As water contains no carbohydrate or calories, it is the perfect drink for pregnant women.

Studies have also shown that drinking water could help control glucose levels. Drink a large glass of water with every meal and another glass in between meals. “Water was key to keeping my glucose levels stable. I probably drank about 3 to 4 litres a day and walked for half an hour after dinner.

Which mother is at highest risk for gestational diabetes?

What are the risks factors associated with gestational diabetes mellitus? – Although any woman can develop GDM during pregnancy, some of the factors that may increase the risk include the following:

Overweight or obesity Family history of diabetes Having given birth previously to an infant weighing greater than 9 pounds Age (women who are older than 25 are at a greater risk for developing gestational diabetes than younger women) Race (women who are African-American, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic or Latino, or Pacific Islander have a higher risk) Prediabetes, also known as impaired glucose tolerance

Although increased glucose in the urine is often included in the list of risk factors, it is not believed to be a reliable indicator for GDM.

Are babies bigger with gestational diabetes?

Background – refers to high blood sugar (glucose) during pregnancy. The condition can be treated, but it is associated with higher risk of maternal high blood pressure and for newborns. The larger fetal size may result in problems with labor, including a higher risk of cesarean delivery.

  1. Later in life, children born to women who had gestational diabetes are at,
  2. Women who don’t have any symptoms of gestational diabetes are from the 24th to the 28th week of pregnancy, according to the U.S.
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  4. Previous studies on the potential effects of a woman’s high glucose levels on growth of the fetus have focused on the last two trimesters of pregnancy.

The researchers in the current study examined the potential effects of higher glucose levels beginning in the 10th week of pregnancy.

Can a healthy person get gestational diabetes?

Pregnant Ladies, Take Note: You Can Be Healthy and Fit and Still Get Gestational Diabetes The one-hour glucose test is something every woman is asked to take. For the test, you chug a sugary drink, wait an hour, have your blood drawn, and then go about your day.

  1. Is designed to check for gestational diabetes, a form of high blood sugar that affects pregnant women, and most women don’t hear or think about it again.
  2. That’s how I was, until I was told that I seriously flunked mine—and I didn’t take the news well.
  3. In fact, I’m pretty sure I blurted out something like, “How is that possible?” After all, the typical gestational diabetes patient is someone who has gained a lot of weight during their pregnancy and doesn’t exercise often.
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(Two of the major recommendations for women diagnosed with gestational diabetes are to follow a healthy diet and exercise more.) At seven months pregnant, I haven’t gained much weight, I eat healthy, and I run four miles, five days a week. My doctor also told me in the same visit that my and she wants to keep a close eye on it.

  • WTF is going on?! According to the (CDC) anywhere from one in 50 to one in 20 pregnant women has gestational diabetes, so this is a fairly common issue.
  • I just didn’t think it would be my issue.
  • But, apparently, you can develop gestational diabetes and be an otherwise healthy person.
  • Like type 2 diabetes, “gestational diabetes is linked to excess weight gain and lack of exercise,” Anita Avery, M.D., an ob/gyn at Michigan State University, tells SELF.

“However, plenty of otherwise healthy women who are in good shape can still develop gestational diabetes.” That’s why women are screened with a blood test, rather than just those who are thought to have a chance of having gestational diabetes based on their weight or fitness levels, she explains.

  • Mark B. Landon, M.D., chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at The Ohio State University College of Medicine, agrees.
  • The prototype gestational diabetic woman is a woman with obesity and perhaps a family history of diabetes in which pregnancy unmasks a diabetic state for the first time,” he tells SELF.

“However, there is a subset of women who are not obese and may lead a very healthy lifestyle yet may develop this during pregnancy. The metabolic profiles in these women can be considerably different.” Lean women who develop gestational diabetes may or may not have a family history of the disease but they still develop a defect in how their bodies produce insulin, Landon explains.

For obese women, the primary problem is insulin resistance,” he says. “For lean women, it may involve the secretion of insulin and how quickly it’s released into the blood stream in response to a meal.” But, regardless of how a woman develops gestational diabetes, the are still the same for the mother and baby.

: Pregnant Ladies, Take Note: You Can Be Healthy and Fit and Still Get Gestational Diabetes

Does lifestyle cause gestational diabetes?

Pregnancy Lifestyle Influences Gestational Diabetes Risk

NICHD Archive Note: Information on this page was accurate at the time of publication. This page is no longer being updated.

MP3 – 6.8 MB). Meredith Carlson-Daly: Nearly half of all cases of diabetes during pregnancy could be prevented if the expecting mothers ate well, exercised regularly, stopped smoking, and maintained a healthy body weight before pregnancy, a new study finds.

Diabetes during pregnancy—also known as gestational diabetes—is a common pregnancy complication that can have long-term health effects for both mothers and babies. For example, affected babies are more likely to be born abnormally large and with birth defects. They are also at greater risk for childhood obesity and for Type 2 diabetes later in life.

The study appeared in the British Medical Journal and was funded in part by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. The researchers found numerous links between the unhealthy habits and diabetes during pregnancy.

One of the key findings was that the women with the highest risk were overweight or obese before pregnancy. From the National Institutes of Health, I’m Meredith Carlson Daly and this is Research Developments, a podcast of the NICHD. With me today is the study’s lead author, Cuilin Zhang, of the Institute’s Epidemiology Branch, Division of Intramural Population Health Research.

Thank you for joining us today, Dr. Zhang. Dr. Cuilin Zhang: Sure, my pleasure. Thanks for having me Meredith. Ms. Carlson-Daly: Dr. Zhang, I wonder if you could start off by defining gestational diabetes. What is it and how would a pregnant woman know if she had it? Dr.

Zhang: Sure, I’d be happy to. Gestational diabetes is high blood sugar with onset or first diagnosed during pregnancy. Our body uses glucose for energy. But, too much glucose in pregnant women’s blood is not good for either women or their babies. Usually women are tested for gestational diabetes between weeks 24 and 28 of pregnancy by measuring their blood glucose levels.

If women have a higher chance of getting gestational diabetes, for instance they are obese before pregnancy; doctor may test for diabetes during their first perinatal visit. Ms. Carlson-Daly: And how common is gestational diabetes? Dr. Zhang: Well, this really depends on the diagnosis criteria used.

There are still debates regarding the best diagnosis criteria. I am not getting into that today. In the United States, gestational diabetes affects roughly between 1 % and 26% of all pregnancies. And this pregnancy complication is a growing health concern; multiple population-based studies have shown increases in its occurrence in the past decade.

Ms. Carlson-Daly: What did your study find? Dr. Zhang: So, in this study, we found that low risk lifestyle before pregnancy (that is, maintaining a healthy body weight, consuming a healthy diet, exercising regularly (at least 150 minutes a week, and not smoking) was related to a substantially lower risk of gestational diabetes.

  • And women at low risk for all these four factors had more than 80% lower risk than those without any of these low risk factors.
  • We also found that the combination of the four highest risks: smoking, inactivity, overweight or obesity and poor diet could account for nearly half of gestational diabetes events.

And, importantly, among both normal weight and obese or overweight women, a healthy diet and lifestyle was related to a lower risk. Ms. Carlson-Daly: So, let me see, I’m just going to repeat back. Let me just see if I have this correctly because it seems to be a very important finding.

So, women who had the four factors: smoking, inactivity, being overweight or obese before becoming pregnant, and a poor diet. All those four categories, the women who did not have those were 80% less likely to have gestational diabetes? Dr. Zhang: That is right, exactly. Ms. Carlson-Daly: That is an enormous statistic.

Dr. Zhang: It is! It is amazing, but if you look at our paper you can see woman who can really fit into that category, really healthy diet and lifestyle, the number is so small. Even among these women who are health professionals. So, this on the other hand also indicates we have lots of space for intervention.

  1. Ms. Carlson-Daly: Can you tell me what the findings mean for women who are pregnant or who are planning a pregnancy? Dr.
  2. Zhang: So, clearly, women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy should stop smoking, adopt a healthy diet, and get regular exercise.
  3. And if overweight or obese before pregnant, they should take steps to lower their weight.
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And as we know, obesity has become a global epidemic, and its prevalence continues to increase, unfortunately. And women of reproductive age are no exception. A high proportion of women, more than 40%, are overweight or obese when they become pregnant.

And we all know it is so hard to lose weight. And the promising news from the present study is that, even for overweight or obese women, stopping smoking, adopting a healthy diet, and getting regular exercise were related to a great decrease in the risk of developing diabetes in pregnancy. And another question is whether to encourage all women planning pregnancy to adopt these healthier lifestyles, or to limit our attempts only to those presently at higher risk.

I would agree with the editorial in the British Medical Journal strongly encouraging all women planning a pregnancy, including those at low risk, to eat better, stop smoking, and exercise more. Ms. Carlson-Daly: I mean, you know, you can’t go wrong even if you are starting out healthy, to maintain those four key factors.

  • Dr. Zhang: Yes, that’s true.
  • Exactly! Ms.
  • Carlson-Daly: How did you select the women you studied? Dr.
  • Zhang: Well, our study are based on a comprehensive investigation of more than 14,000 healthy women in the United States who took part in the Nurses’ Health Study II between 1989 and 2001.
  • And as some of you may know, the Nurses’ Health Study II, is an ongoing prospective cohort that was established in 1989 by enrolling more than 100,000 female nurses aged 24-44 years old at baseline from the United States.

Ms. Carlson-Daly: How did you collect the data on the women’s smoking, their diet, their exercise? Dr. Zhang: So in this study, we obtained the information of women’s’ smoking and weight every two years. And beginning in 1991 and every four years thereafter, women were asked to complete a food frequency questionnaire in addition to the main questionnaire.

  • And as some of you may know diet, the food frequency questionnaire was designed to measure average habitual dietary intakes over a year-long period.
  • And physical activity, exercise was assessed on the main questionnaire in 1989, 1991, and 1997.
  • Women were asked to report the average amount of time they spent on moderate or vigorous recreational activities each week.

Ms. Carlson-Daly: Where does this research go from here? Dr. Zhang: This is really a good question. So, thinking about the future research along this line, one feature of the present study was that women were predominantly white and all were nurses. So, it would be really important for future research to find out whether lifestyle changes would have the same effect in other ethnic groups or in populations who aren’t as well-educated about health and wellness as the nurses in our study.

  1. And secondly, our promising findings are based on an observational study.
  2. So, an intervention study among women who are planning pregnancy on the impact of promoting healthy diet and lifestyle before pregnancy in lowering GDM risk and improving maternal and neonatal outcomes may also be warranted.
  3. And if we can prevent gestational diabetes at the first beginning, it could be an important strategy in curbing its related adverse health events for future generations.

And in addition, going beyond pregnancy, we all know that women who have gestational diabetes are at exceptionally high risk for developing type 2 diabetes later in their lives and their children may be at greater risk for obesity and cardio-metabolic disorders.

But, indeed, very limited is known about determinants of these subsequent adverse health outcomes among women and their children, and about how to prevent these adverse events. And we do not know well about the underlying mechanisms either. So, in the Division of Intramural Population Health Research, we are trying to answer these questions in the ongoing Diabetes & Women’s Health study and a planning study on the trans-generational impact of diabetes in pregnancy.

Fortunately, we have identified some promising findings. And hopefully, in the near future we’ll have more findings to share. Ms. Carlson-Daly: Thank you so much. This is Research Developments, a podcast of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

I’ve been speaking with Cuilin Zhang, lead author of the study about risk factors for gestational diabetes, published in the British Medical Journal. Thanks again for joining us today, Dr. Zhang. Dr. Zhang: Sure, my pleasure. Thank you again for having me. ### About the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD): The NICHD sponsors research on development, before and after birth; maternal, child, and family health; reproductive biology and population issues; and medical rehabilitation.

For more information, visit the Institute’s website at, : Pregnancy Lifestyle Influences Gestational Diabetes Risk

What happens if you ignore gestational diabetes?

Q. Will my baby be affected? – A. Gestational diabetes in a mother should not cause birth defects in her unborn child. However, if gestational diabetes goes undiagnosed and is not treated, there is a higher risk of certain problems in the baby, including the following.

High birth weight. This can make vaginal delivery difficult, and can result in having an assisted delivery or a Caesarean section. Sometimes the baby may be injured during vaginal birth. Breathing difficulties after birth. Jaundice. Low blood glucose levels (hypoglycaemia) after birth. Babies born to mothers with diabetes will have their blood glucose levels tested regularly for the first few days after birth.

What week does gestational diabetes start?

Diagnosis – Gestational diabetes is diagnosed with a blood test, Your blood glucose level is measured after you drink a sweet beverage. If your blood sugar is too high, you have gestational diabetes. Sometimes one test is all that’s needed to make a definitive diagnosis.

More often, an initial screening test is done, followed by a longer evaluation. Gestational diabetes usually does not occur until later in pregnancy, when the placenta is producing more of the hormones that interfere with the mother’s insulin. Screening for gestational diabetes usually takes place between weeks 24 to 28, but women at high risk are likely to be screened in the first trimester.

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Can gestational diabetes cause autism?

What’s The Autism-Diabetes Link? – Scientists have been trying to tease out the relationship between a mother’s diabetes and her child’s autism in recent years. Researchers at Kaiser Permanente Southern California examined the prenatal records of more than 322,000 mothers; almost 3,400 of their children were later diagnosed with autism.

In analyzing data, they took into account other factors that could affect the results, such as a mother’s age, race, ethnicity, level of education, and history of heart, lung, kidney or liver disease, or cancer. They also looked at smoking and weight in a subset of the mothers. They made those adjustments to ensure they were only calculating the effect of diabetes on autism risk.1 They found that moms diagnosed with gestational diabetes by 26 weeks of pregnancy were 42 percent more likely to have a child with autism, compared to women without diabetes.1 To put it in perspective, the risk of having a child with autism is about 1.5 percent; gestational diabetes raises the risk to a little over 2 percent, according to that study.

Interestingly, women who were diagnosed with diabetes after 26 weeks of pregnancy did not have a higher risk of having a child with ASD. Perhaps that is because those children were exposed to high blood sugar after a period of critical brain development had passed, or because their mothers’ diabetes was mild, the researchers speculated.1 In the United States, most doctors screen pregnant women for diabetes between their 24th and 28th week of pregnancy because that is when gestational diabetes usually develops.

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Is banana good for gestational diabetes?

– Most general dietary guidelines for diabetes recommend following a healthy, balanced diet that includes fruit ( 22, 23, 24 ). This is because eating fruits and vegetables has been linked to better health and a lower risk of conditions such as heart disease and some cancers ( 25, 26, 27, 28 ).

  • People living with diabetes are at an even greater risk of these diseases, so eating enough fruits and vegetables is important ( 29, 30, 31, 32 ).
  • Unlike refined sugar products such as candy and cake, the carbs in fruits like bananas come with fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
  • More specifically, bananas provide fiber, potassium, vitamin B6, and vitamin C.

They also contain some antioxidants and beneficial plant compounds ( 33 ). For most people with diabetes, fruits — including bananas — are a healthy choice. However, some people who are following low carb diets need to watch their total carbohydrate intake to stay within their daily carb allotment.

This means foods higher in carbs, including bananas, have to be limited on low carb diets. If your doctor says you can eat bananas, it’s important to be mindful of the ripeness and size of a banana to reduce its effect on your blood sugar level. Summary Fruits like bananas are healthy foods that contain fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

You can include bananas in your diet even if you have diabetes. Check with your healthcare team before changing your eating plan.

Does milk help gestational diabetes?

Don’t Drink Sweet Drinks If You Have Gestational Diabetes – Cross off juice, sweet tea, soda, and any drink with added sugars from your gestational diabetes diet plan. “Avoid foods high in sugar and carbohydrate content,” says Heard. Sweet drinks are one of the fastest ways to raise your blood sugar, which is why they must be off your menu.

What happens when sugar is too high during pregnancy?

How can diabetes affect my baby? – A baby’s organs, such as the brain, heart, kidneys, and lungs, start forming during the first 8 weeks of pregnancy. High blood glucose levels can be harmful during this early stage and can increase the chance that your baby will have birth defects, such as heart defects or defects of the brain or spine.

Should I avoid sugar if I have gestational diabetes?

Carbohydrates –

  • Carbohydrates are part of a healthy diet for a woman with gestational diabetes.
  • Carbohydrates are nutrients that come from certain foods, like grains, milk and yogurt, fruits, and starchy vegetables.
  • During digestion, your body breaks down most carbohydrates into simple sugars, which is your body’s main source of energy.
  • Eating carbohydrates increases your blood sugar level. If you eat a small amount of carbohydrate at a meal, your blood sugar level goes up a small amount. If you eat a large amount of carbohydrate at a meal, your blood sugar level goes up a large amount.
  • You need to find a balance between eating enough carbohydrates to get the energy and glucose you need, and limiting the carbohydrates you eat to control your blood sugar level. The best way to do this is to spread them throughout the day.
  • Your health care team will come up with a healthy diet for you that includes the right amount of carbohydrates to maintain a healthy pregnancy.
  • Women with gestational diabetes usually need to avoid foods that are high in sugar, like sweets and desserts, in order to keep their blood sugar level in control.
  • Not getting enough carbohydrates can also cause problems. You should follow the meal plan provided by your health care provider.

What happens if a pregnant woman has high sugar?

How Might Diabetes Affect My Pregnancy? – Diabetes during pregnancy—including type 1, type 2, or gestational diabetes—can negatively affect the health of women and their babies. For women with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, high blood sugar around the time of conception increases babies’ risk of birth defects, stillbirth, and preterm birth,

How much is too much sugar while pregnant?

How much sugar can I have? – Bachmann advises pregnant patients to keep their free sugar intake under 30 grams (a little over 7 teaspoons). Free sugar is added sugar, which includes the sweetness in fruit juices, desserts and other foods. Sugar that comes naturally in foods, including sugar in the cells of fruits and vegetables, doesn’t count toward your intake because this type of sugar doesn’t have a negative impact on health, according to the British Heart Foundation.

For scale, a packet of sugar you’d put in your coffee is typically 4 grams of free sugar. A pint of Ben & Jerry’s “Cannoli” ice cream has 30 grams of sugar, or your total daily amount of free sugar. That’s why it’s especially important to make healthy swaps of your favorite foods – say, a juicy orange for dessert instead of a cookie.

This is a general example of how much a person should eat in pregnancy, but your own limit may depend on other factors, including whether you’ve been diagnosed with gestational diabetes. Read more: Why you feel bad after you eat sugar Cristina Pedrazzini/Science Photo Library/Getty Images