This represents a state of abnormal glucose metabolism seen during pregnancy. It mimics diabetes but is first detected during pregnancy and usually after the seventh month.
Though any pregnant woman may have gestational diabetes, it is usually seen in obese, elderly women and those with a family history of diabetes.
It is most often diagnosed by an oral glucose tolerance test at around seven months of pregnancy. In this test, a measured amount of glucose is taken by mouth and repeated blood tests are done over a 2-hour period. The condition usually causes no symptoms in the expectant mother. However, early detection of the disease is necessary as it can prevent pregnancy complications - early breaking of waters, preterm delivery and complications of the baby - larger than normal size, respiratory and metabolic problems at delivery.
Testing for blood sugars in later months of pregnancy for high-risk women help in early detection of the condition and appropriate management.
Treatment depends on the levels of blood glucose. For mild cases, a diabetic diet is recommended which corrects the abnormality. For severe cases, insulin injections will be necessary. Generally oral medicines are not prescribed. Frequent checking of blood sugar levels is necessary after the detection of gestational diabetes. The baby in the womb needs to be monitored by serial ultrasound examinations.