Dear Dr. Donohue • Last year, I had my third baby. During that pregnancy I developed gestational diabetes. Can I do anything to lessen the chances of diabetes? Did this affect the baby at all? — K.D.
Answer • Gestational diabetes is diabetes that develops during pregnancy and goes away after the baby is delivered.
If diabetes arises in the first three months of pregnancy, many experts now call that type 2 diabetes, as the woman is likely to manifest diabetes within a few years.
On a woman’s first prenatal visit to the doctor, the doctor evaluates her risk for coming down with pregnancy-related diabetes. A family history of diabetes, age older than 25 and being overweight are some of those risks. If a woman has a substantial number of them, she is checked for diabetes right then.
For women with no to few risks, testing for diabetes is routinely done between the 24th and 28th week. If the testing shows elevated blood sugar or an elevated hemoglobin A1C (a newer diabetes test), that woman is put on a diabetic diet and told to exercise. Should her sugar remain elevated, insulin is usually begun. Treatment prevents complications of diabetes, such as an oversized baby, premature delivery and pre-eclampsia, a rise in blood pressure along with fluid retention in the mother.
Your risk of developing diabetes later in life is higher than it is for a woman who never had pregnancy-related diabetes. You can lessen the risk by staying on the slim side, eating a healthy diet and exercising.
Your baby is not at increased risk of diabetes or of any other illness.
Readers can order a booklet on diabetes by writing: Dr. Donohue — No. 402, Box 536475, Orlando, Fla. 32853-6475. Enclose a check or money order along with the recipient’s printed name and address.
Write Dr. Donohue at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, Fla. 32853-6475.