Gestational Diabetes Complications – The Effects of the Disease

Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) occurs during pregnancy and is characterized by an increase in blood sugar levels. As the causes of GDM are varied, doctors recommend every pregnant woman to get screened for this condition. If GDM is left undiagnosed and untreated, it can lead to various gestational diabetes complications in the mother as well as the fetus.

gestational diabetes complications
Jaundice in the fetus or the newborn is one of the potential gestational diabetes complications.

Gestation Diabetes Complications You Need To Be Aware Of

  • Gestation Diabetes Complications In The Mother

    Gestational diabetes complications in the mother could include one or more of the following.

    • Vaginal bleeding: GDM may lead to the disruption of the placenta (the organ that links the blood circulation of the mother and the fetus) leading to vaginal bleeding. This may also cause pain in the abdomen
    • Premature labour: Diabetes during pregnancy may lead to the premature delivery of the baby
    • Cesarean deliveries: GDM often results in large sized babies. This could hamper vaginal delivery of the baby and call for a cesarean section delivery
    • Miscarriage
    • Hypertension
    • Development of diabetes at a later point in life
  • Gestation Diabetes Complications In The Fetus

    Gestational diabetes complications in the fetus include:

    • Macrosomia: Gestational diabetes increases the risk of the baby being large for its gestational age i.e. weighing more than 4kg. This is known as macrosomia and it is caused due to the over nutrition of the baby
    • Neonatal hypoglycemia  The baby’s blood sugar can drop very low after birth, since it does not receive the requisite amount of blood sugar from the mother
    • Increased risk of trauma to the baby during delivery due to its larger than normal size
    • Congenital malformations: Diabetes can affect the developing fetus throughout the pregnancy. In early pregnancy, diabetes in the mother can result in birth defects (often in the brain and heart) and an increased rate of miscarriage
    • Jaundice, which is caused due to the accumulation of a waste product called bilirubin in the baby’s blood
    • Respiratory distress syndrome: The baby’s lungs are not fully developed and cannot provide enough oxygen to the rest of their body, causing respiratory distress
    • Hypocalcemia, characterized by decreased levels of calcium in the baby
    • The possibility of the child growing up to be obese
    • Development of diabetes at a later point in life

    complications of gestational diabetes
    The complications of gestational diabetes may force the premature delivery of the baby.

With proper treatment, it is absolutely possible to have a healthy baby despite having gestational diabetes. If you’re an expectant mother, it is recommended that you get screened for GDM through a gestational diabetes test as per the advice of your obstetrician, to avoid potential gestational diabetes complications. Following a diet for gestational diabetes is also a step in the right direction.

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