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Gestational diabetes

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Women who do not have diabetes normally but are found to have high levels of glucose in their blood while they are pregnant have gestational diabetes.

The body needs insulin, produced in the pancreas, in order to break down sugars and starches from the food we eat to turn it into energy. Insulin transports the broken down sugars and starches (glucose) from the blood to cells in the body.  If this doesn’t occur, for whatever reason, it means the cells begin to starve, which can have severe consequences. Diabetes may be caused by a myriad to reasons, including insulin resistance.

A pregnant woman’s placenta nurtures the baby during the gestational period. The placenta, full of hormones, ensures the baby grows. These hormones may block the action of insulin in the mother’s body; hence there exists a type of insulin resistance.

Gestational diabetes may have a serious effect on the unborn baby.  Essentially what happens here is that although your body is literally working overtime to produce enough insulin, the glucose levels in your blood remain high. While insulin does not cross over into the placenta, glucose does.  This in turn leads the baby’s pancreas to work to produce insulin in order to work against the glucose in its blood. And because the baby is getting more energy than it ultimately needs to grow, there is a large chance the baby will develop macrosomia, or be a “fat” baby.

Because the babies were producing so much insulin in the placenta, this means babies may be born with too low blood glucose levels. Babies who are born with too much insulin in their bodies, aside from being at much higher risk for breathing problems, are also more likely to become obese during childhood and develop type 2 diabetes during adulthood.

Once diagnosed with gestational diabetes, treatment must begin immediately. On the first level of treatment, meals are adjusted and exercise will ensue in order to ensure a similar level of blood glucose to other pregnant women.  Regularly checking blood glucose levels may become a part of the daily routine, as may insulin injections.

Celebrities who suffered from gestational diabetes include Salma Hayek.

Find out more about type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes.

Celebrities who suffer from type 1 diabetes include Nick Jonas and Bret Michaels.

Celebrities who suffer from type 2 diabetes include Halle Berry.

Image: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1228123

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