Patient’s Perspective- Pregnant and diabetic
Ella Tan | On 23, Dec 2014
When I was pregnant with my son (now 24), my gynae had a near seizure when his nurse alerted him to my alarmingly high blood sugar level. I had to sheepishly confess to polishing off a full-sized Mars bar on the way to his clinic. Sorry, Dr Ong, I had a craving and forgot.
Relieved, he made me promise to never again overload on sugar just before a blood test. Thankfully, at the next check-up, my blood sugar level was normal.
Now, of course I understand why Dr Ong flipped. Gestational diabetes affects some 4% of pregnant women and involves lots of nasty complications. My late mother-in-law had gestational diabetes (my husband weighed over 10 lbs at birth). She continued being diabetic, suffering the slew of problems that come with diabetes, and in middle-age, my husband developed diabetes as did his two brothers.
Hormonal changes during pregnancy can cause impaired glucose tolerance but usually blood sugar levels are not high enough to indicate diabetes. However, by the third trimester, hormonal changes put some women at risk for gestational diabetes.
The following factors increase the risk of developing gestational diabetes during pregnancy (from WebMD):
• Being overweight prior to becoming pregnant (if you are 20% or more over your ideal body weight)
• Being a member of a high risk ethnic group (Hispanic, Black, Native American, or Asian)
• Having sugar in your urine • Impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glucose (blood sugar levels are high, but not high enough to be diabetes)
• Family history of diabetes (if your parents or siblings have diabetes)
• Previously giving birth to a baby over 9 pounds
• Previously giving birth to a stillborn baby
• Having gestational diabetes with a previous pregnancy
• Having too much amniotic fluid (a condition called polyhydramnios) That said, many women who develop gestational diabetes have no known risk factors.