Effects of Diabetes Mellitus During Pregnancy

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Experts recommend that all women be screened for diabetes mellitus during pregnancy, as it can be harmful to both mother and the developing baby.  

What is diabetes mellitus?

When you eat food, the level of sugar (glucose) in your blood will increase. Then insulin is released directly into your bloodstream to control the glucose level. 

Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas’ beta cells. It helps the glucose present in the blood to get into the body’s cells. Thus providing energy. 

But if your body can not make sufficient insulin or can not use the produced insulin, your blood sugar levels remain very high. This condition is termed diabetes mellitus or simply diabetes.

Diabetes Mellitus During Pregnancy

There are three types of diabetes: type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, and gestational diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes 

occurs when your body can not produce enough insulin. This happens when your immune system destroys the beta cells. 

Type 2 diabetes 

occurs when your body stops responding to the insulin produced. This is also called insulin resistance. 

Gestational diabetes 

is a special type of diabetes that is formed during pregnancy. Women diagnosed with this are more likely to have type 2 diabetes in their later life.

What effect does high blood sugar have on your baby?

Hypoglycemia

Your baby’s blood sugar levels stay very close to your blood sugar levels throughout the pregnancy. Right after the delivery, the baby continues to have high insulin but no longer has any glucose from the mother. 

This may cause a sudden drop in your baby’s glucose level. This can be a problem for your baby. So your baby should be fed immediately. In some cases, the baby is provided with glucose in an IV.

Your baby is putting on weight too.

Babies grow bigger when mom has high blood sugar. Due to high blood glucose, your baby starts making more insulin and a lot more hormones. This makes the baby put on more weight.

Increased risk of birth injury

The head is supposed to be the biggest part of the baby, and it is supposed to come out first. When your blood sugars are high during pregnancy, your baby’s will also be increased, and they put on weight through the shoulders and the abdomen. 

At the delivery time, the head comes out, but it gets difficult at the shoulder portion. This is called shoulder distortion. This makes it difficult for the baby to get enough oxygen. 

Metabolic issues and obesity

It is known that children of diabetic mothers tend to have a higher risk of obesity and developing diabetes themselves. 

This is because your blood sugars during pregnancy will have a lasting or sometimes a lifelong effect of having metabolism issues or obesity for your children.

Stillbirth

If your glucose levels are not controlled and fluctuate from very high to very low, it can cause stillbirth. This means a pregnancy loss. 

Stillbirth is a rare condition. But the risk gets higher if your blood sugar levels remain uncontrolled near the due date.

Bottom Line

If you are planning for a baby, know more about diabetes mellitus and take the necessary steps to lessen its risks.

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