What are the causes and symptoms of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM)? As well we know, it is a kind of diabetes (metabolic health condition) that occurs in some women during pregnancy — pregnant women who diagnosed with GDM don’t have diabetes before pregnancy. In other words, it is diagnosed when your blood sugar is higher than normal and first appears in your pregnancy. It usually occurs about 24-28th of pregnancy (late in pregnancy), but there are also some women who experience it earlier.
About 1 out of every 20 women (about 3-5 percent of pregnancies) has GDM. Though it is rare but if you experience it, you are not alone. The good news, many women with GDM can have healthy pregnancy and deliver a healthy baby. Furthermore, there are now a lot of well-informed health professionals that can provide in-depth information and help you.
Experts don’t yet know about the exactly answer for the cause of this health condition. But generally, experts believe that the transformation of your body from the first day of conception to prepare your pregnancy can contribute to the fluctuation of your blood sugar.
In early pregnancy, the production of pregnancy hormones that triggered by placenta will increase drastically. This is purposed to prepare your body for the growth of your baby until delivery and even for breastfeeding.
But the elevated of pregnancy hormones also can be potential to affect the action of insulin (a kind of hormone that is very crucial in regulating glucose /sugar in the bloodstream).
This may lead to insulin resistance (a condition of poor volume of insulin in the bloodstream or a condition of when insulin cannot work effectively in helping to absorb the glucose from the bloodstream into the cells of body to produce energy).
Once your body gets insulin resistance, you may need insulin about 2-3 times higher than normal to restore your blood sugar level back to normal. Therefore, some pregnant women with GDM need to take insulin replacement to provide adequate insulin that meet to their body needs.
The major goal of eating food is to get energy and to keep survive. Foods that you eat then will be changed into simple substance called glucose (the simple form of sugar). Glucose then will enter the bloodstream and will be absorbed by the body’s cells.
To absorb glucose taken from food, your body needs hormone insulin. Without this hormone, cells of your body cannot absorb glucose or sugar in the bloodstream – as noted before. As a result, you have lack of energy due to the glucose in the bloodstream cannot be optimally absorbed and converted into energy. This also can lead to the higher accumulation of glucose in blood, and you will have high blood sugar level.
Insulin is produced by beta cells (cells of pancreas). Normally, insulin that is released into the bloodstream is equivalent to the amount of glucose in the bloodstream. If the volume of glucose increases then insulin also will be released more into the bloodstream.
This health problem is more likely to occur in:
- Women who are being pregnant at the age of over 30.
- Pregnant women who have a family history of diabetes (both type-1 and type-2 diabetes).
- Women with overweight before pregnancy.
- Women with personal history of gestational diabetes. If in your first pregnancy you experience GDM, you are more likely to have the same problem in your next pregnancy.
- Women with polyhydramnios (a condition of having too high amniotic fluid).
- Women with a personal history of delivering overweight baby (higher than 9 pounds) or a stillborn baby – according WebMD.
- Women of a high-risk race group (such as Asian, Native American, American-Indian, Hispanic, and indigenous Australian).
Having one or some of these risk factors doesn’t mean that you will definitely develop GDM during pregnancy — but ‘Yes’, you are at higher risk to develop GDM than others who don’t have any risk factor!
In many cases, GDM doesn’t cause any noticeable symptom and sign. If the symptoms of gestational diabetes do occur, they may include:
- Increased urination which then causes frequently urination.
- Easier to get thirst – increased sense of thirst.
- Blurred vision.
- Increased sense of hunger.
Some of these symptoms (such as frequently urination and more hungry feeling) can be a part of normal pregnancy symptoms.
That’s why – diagnosing GDM is not enough from the symptoms that occur. Your doctor needs to check the level of your blood sugar for further analysis in determining whether or not you have GDM.
Unfortunately, there is no specific early sign for GDM. The symptoms of this health problem are more likely to occur if the disease gets worse or if you have poor blood sugar control.
If you are on the way in trying to get pregnant, it’s much better to see a doctor or your GP to discuss any issues about pregnancy that you need to know before you get pregnant.