What is gestational diabetes?

The term gestational diabetes (GD) refers to diabetes that is diagnosed during pregnancy. Current estimates place between 3% to 25% of all pregnant women to be at risk for gestational diabetes, which has significant consequences for both the fetus and the mother. Many women also develop type 2 diabetes mellitus after GD, which further compounds the need to identify the risks associated with this disease. To date, there has been no causal link established between sugar consumption and the development of GD because sugar consumption plays close to no role in influencing insulin resistance, which is the key mechanism that establishes GD.

Risks of gestational diabetes

As a pregnancy progresses throughout the trimesters, insulin resistance tends to increase in mothers that have GD. High blood sugar levels occur when the insulin-producing pancreas can no longer compensate for the resistance. There are, however, a multitude of known risk factors, and these include being under the age of 25 years; a history of type 2 diabetes mellitus or previous gestational diabetes; race, with those of African heritage particularly at risk; being overweight; having hypertension; polycystic ovarian syndrome; and chronic steroid consumption. These risk factors are used for early detection in the assessment of pregnant mothers who are prone to GD. Tackling the presence of high blood sugar levels is crucial in the early stages of fetal development, so as to ensure the organs develop normally. As mentioned above, being overweight or obese with a Body Mass Index (BMI) above 25 kg/m2 has significant bearing in predisposing pregnant women to suffer from GD.

One reason for the misconception that sugar causes GD may come from the fact that there may be excess carbohydrate intake in individuals with the disease. Excessive consumption of dessert foods, such as cake, cookies, and other confectionaries that tend to be major part of the diets of some obese individuals can lead to the false assumption that sugar and gestational diabetes have a causal link.

Disclaimer: Please note that the contents of this community article are strictly for informational purposes and should not be considered as medical advice. This article, and other community articles, are not written or reviewed for medical validity by Canadian Insulin or its staff. All views and opinions expressed by the contributing authors are not endorsed by Canadian Insulin. Always consult a medical professional for medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment.