Pregnant women in their late twenties and thirties are twice as likely to develop diabetes during their pregnancy today than they were five years ago. “Almost 3-4 per cent Indian women develop gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), a disease that places both the mother and child at risk of complications,” says Dr Suneeta Mittal, Head of Department, Obstetrics and Gyanecology at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). The global incidence is 2-3 per cent.
Gestational diabetes occurs when pregnancy triggers insulin resistance in the second trimester and raises a woman’s blood glucose level. It is temporary and the sugar levels fall back to normal after the baby is born. “Obesity, sedentary lifestyles, family history of diabetes, late age of conception, poor obstetric history with frequent abortions or foetal malformation are all risk factors for the sudden development of the disease,” says Dr Mittal.
Some mothers have normal pregnancies till their seventh month but suddenly develop diabetes, as it happened with 25-year-old Rinki Narang. “I was shocked as all my reports till my second trimester were normal,” says Rinki. She admits that her diet had gone awry. “I must say that my food habits were really bad. During my sixth month, I gorged on thick shakes, colas, pastries, chips and everything that was unhealthy but tasty,” she adds.
Doctors say that the only way diabetes can be prevented is by maintaining a strict diet regimen. Rinki, who is due to deliver in early July, is now on a healthy diet, something she hates. “Honestly speaking, I hate healthy food. I keep telling my baby, ‘see your mum is eating salad, chappatis and milk almost three times a day-all the things that she hates but she does it so that you are born healthy. Please be as as disciplined as me when you grow up’,” laughs Rinki.
Shweta Khaitan also developed diabetes during pregnancy. “I used to hate the healthy food but I wanted a healthy baby so I did it,” se says. Much to everyone’s delight the baby was born healthy. “I followed my doctor’s advice and took all my medication and food as prescribed,” she adds. Shweta’s baby is now almost four months old.
Does gestational diabetes affect the foetus? “Having diabetes during pregnancy can increase the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth and birth defects,” says Dr Sunita Verma, consultant, Max Healthcare. Several studies have shown that offsprings born to mothers with GDM are more likely to have higher levels of body fat at birth and at age one, which leads to an increased risk of high blood pressure and diabetes in adulthood.
The good news is that most women who develop gestational diabetes can give birth to healthy babies. “But for that, you have to control their blood sugar, eat a healthy diet, exercise, and keep a healthy weight. It is essential that the blood sugar levels are controlled until pregnancy and even later so that the baby is born healthy,” warns Dr Mittal.
© HT Media