Gestational diabetes may raise risk of type 2 diabetes, delivery complications

Many people know that obesity is a primary risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes. However, some women may not realize that weight gain at any time in life - even during pregnancy - may cause them to become diabetic.

Gestational diabetes is considered a temporary form of the disease, which sets in while a woman is pregnant. Although blood sugar levels often return to normal after a new mother delivers her baby, some researchers say that these females are not in the clear, since many women who experience gestational diabetes develop type 2 diabetes later in life.

A recent article published in the Chicago Sun-Times highlighted some frequently reported complications associated with gestational diabetes, including those that affect the mother and child.

"Pregnancy tends to be a little crystal ball of the future. It tells us what the future could be, but we do have the opportunity to change that future," said Dr. Brian Egan, an obstetrician/gynecologist at Provena Saint Joseph Hospital, quoted by the newspaper.

He explained to the news provider that there is a higher risk of birth trauma for both mother and baby when gestational diabetes is present, since infants who are born to women with this condition often have a higher birth weight. The health expert also said that these babies sometimes become hypoglycemic shortly after delivery due to their high insulin levels.

According to the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse, as many as 10 percent of pregnant women experience gestational diabetes, and these mothers have a 60 percent chance of being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes within 20 years of giving birth.

Mothers-to-be who are told that they have gestational diabetes may consider consulting a dietitian to help them form a healthy diet and exercise regimen, which they can use to help delay or prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.