Gestational Diabetes Can Affect Mothers Long After They Give Birth

Birth Injury

A recent study by Quest Diagnostics revealed that about half of women who have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes (diabetes that develops during pregnancy), go on to get Type 2 diabetes in the months or years after their child’s birth. Here’s the kicker: the study revealed fewer than one in five of these women return for critical diabetes test within six months of delivery. This is the first checkup that they’re supposed to have every few years to check for the return of diabetes.

Somewhere between 2 percent and 10 percent of pregnant women develop diabetes during pregnancy (known as gestational diabetes). If untreated, the mother’s high blood sugar can make the baby grow too large, leading to cesarean deliveries and earlier deliveries. Gestational diabetes can also cause a potentially life threatening condition known as preeclampsia, which is pregnancy induced high blood pressure. Gestational diabetes even increases the child’s risk of becoming obese in childhood.

Usually a mother’s blood sugar returns to normal a few weeks after the birth, but patients need to be checked within six to twelve weeks to be sure. According to Quest’s study, only 19% of women returned for those tests to check their blood sugar levels after giving birth.

These are sobering facts since many mothers could take steps to reduce the chance of diabetes later-in-life if they were aware of the diabetes. Diabetes can cause heart disease and kidney damage.

Studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 26 million Americans have diabetes and about 50 million have high blood sugar that is high enough to classify them as pre-diabetic. This is serious stufff.

If you have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, do yourself a favor: go for checkups to monitor your blood sugar and make sure your diabetes disappears after your pregnancy.