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Gestational Diabetes could Lead to Bigger Problem, Doctor Says

Posted at: 11/19/2012 1:58 PM
Updated at: 11/19/2012 6:08 PM
By: Brittany Falkers

Obstetrician and Gynecologist at St. Luke's Hospital in Duluth, Susan Goltz, sees expecting moms every day and she knows from experience, it not easy when a mom-to-be learns she has gestational diabetes.

"I had gestational diabetes with my second pregnancy," Goltz said, "I was disappointed."

It effects 18 percent of pregnancies, according to the American Diabetes Association.  It occurs because of changing hormones and insulin levels during pregnancy. Goltz says it is manageable, but sometimes that's easier said than done.

"I was pregnant over Christmas and I didn't know how how I was going to survive without my Christmas cookies," she said, "I found it very hard to control my blood sugars initially.  It got easier as time went on."

That is why Goltz sends expecting moms, struggling to keep their blood sugar levels normal, to a nutritional specialist, such as Brenda Anderson. Anderson helps women after the diagnosis, which can be a tough emotional time.

 "It's a lot of things to add and it's towards the end of their pregnancy so they're dealing with all sorts of other exciting things.  So, this is a large task," Anderson said. 

When meeting with moms-to-be who have gestational diabetes, Anderson focuses on teaching them about nutrition and exercise.  She says the things these women learn with her during pregnancy is especially important after the baby is born.

 "If you're having gestational diabetes during pregnancy, your having a harder time controlling your blood sugar.  So, certainly that risk is going to stay with you the rest of your life," Anderson said. 

Women who have gestational diabetes are 25 percent more likely to get type two diabetes later in life, according to Goltz.  She says that increases to 50 to 75 percent in women who are overweight.

 "It's really a very frightening thing because of the long term implications with type two diabetes with it's effect on heart disease," Goltz said, "And all of the other things that obesity and type two diabetes can contribute to."

That's why Goltz and Anderson say it's important to take healthy steps now and for moms to keep using them into the future, post-pregnancy.  They say it will in-turn help to fight off that increased risk for type two diabetes later in life. .

November is American Diabetes month, which the folks at St. Luke's say is a great time to get talking about nutrition.