Post Contributor: Corrie Pikul
Gestational diabetes, which simply means developing high blood sugar during pregnancy, usually shows up in the middle of pregnancy. Doctors often test for it between 24 and 28 weeks, and it affects 2% to 10% of pregnancies in the United States every year. Here’s what people tend to get wrong about it.
MYTH: Gestational diabetes always turns into type 2 diabetes.
This condition usually goes away after the baby is born but it does increase the risk for type 2 diabetes later in life. Half of all women who had gestational diabetes eventually develop type 2 diabetes [Source: CDC].
MYTH: Babies of moms with gestational diabetes are born with type 2 diabetes.
This isn’t true, but if a woman’s diabetes was not well controlled during pregnancy, the baby can very quickly develop low blood sugar after birth, and therefore the baby needs to be monitored for several hours after delivery [Source: CDC].
MYTH: Gestational diabetes only affects women who are obese.
Some women with gestational diabetes are overweight, but certainly not all. During pregnancy, the body goes through a number of changes, and some (like weight gain, or increased hormone production) may cause cells to use insulin less effectively. While most pregnant women have some insulin resistance during late pregnancy, some start pregnancy with an increased need for insulin and are more likely to have gestational diabetes [Source: CDC].
MYTH: Fate alone will decide whether a woman develops gestational diabetes.
Before becoming pregnant, it may be possible to prevent gestational diabetes by losing excess weight, eating healthier, and getting regular physical activity. And these same lifestyle modifications can also help control gestational diabetes after it’s been diagnosed (a doctor may also prescribe insulin). All pregnant women should talk to their doctor about how to have the healthiest possible pregnancy for themselves and their babies [Source: CDC].