How dangerous is diabetes in pregnancy

What are the effects of gestational diabetes? (Gestational diabetes, Diabetes in Pregnancy)

The body produces the hormone insulin in the pancreas. It promotes the absorption of sugar into the cells and thus lowers the blood sugar level. Especially in the second half of pregnancy, the need for insulin increases steadily due to the influence of pregnancy hormones. If the pancreas cannot adjust the production of insulin to this increased need, the blood sugar level rises as a result and gestational diabetes occurs. This can have consequences for both the mother and the child.

Possible consequences for the mother

Pregnant women with gestational diabetes suffer slightly more often from infections (e.g. of the urinary tract), and vaginal thrush is also more common. They also develop pregnancy-related high blood pressure and preeclampsia. The risk of premature birth before the 37th week of pregnancy (SSW) is also increased and can often be attributed to maternal infections.

There is an increased risk of certain complications during childbirth, such as shoulder dystocia in the child or a severe perineal tear in the woman, as the children are often larger and heavier than average at birth. This also increases the rate of caesarean sections in women with gestational diabetes.

If a woman had gestational diabetes during pregnancy, she has an increased risk of developing diabetes again and then permanently. The risk of diabetes is likely to be significantly reduced if an increased need for insulin (e.g. if you are overweight, have an unhealthy diet, or exercise) is avoided and a healthy lifestyle is followed.

Possible consequences for the child

Gestational diabetes can be dangerous for the unborn child. Sugar from the mother's blood reaches the fetus via the placenta, whereupon the fetus tries to compensate for the increased blood sugar levels by releasing more insulin. As a result, this leads to an increased metabolism as well as increased fat storage, increase in size and increase in birth weight (macrosomia).

The greatest danger lies in a possible impaired development of the placenta, which can lead to a child's lack of care and even to the death of the fetus.

The slower maturation of the lungs of the fetus is also of particular importance, as a result of which there is a risk of respiratory distress symptom (IBS) after birth. The maturation of the unborn child can be delayed, so that adjustment disorders can occur after birth.

Problems can arise during childbirth due to the increase in weight and size of the fetus, which is also more stressful for the child due to the less favorable space available. A caesarean section is often necessary in such cases.

After delivery, the newborns of mothers with gestational diabetes tend to have hypoglycaemia. Regular checks within the first 48 hours of life and appropriate countermeasures can reliably prevent damage caused by this.

In addition, the child has an increased risk of becoming overweight or obese in the course of their life and of developing a sugar tolerance disorder or overt diabetes mellitus. The risk of developing high blood pressure or a metabolic syndrome is also increased.

++ More on the topic: Gestational diabetes ++

In the following video you will learn what pregnant women should pay particular attention to when it comes to nutrition:

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Dr. med. Kerstin Lehermayr
Medical review:
Univ.-Prof. Dr. Thomas Stulnig
Editorial editing:
Philip Pfleger

Status of medical information:

German Diabetes Society (DDG), German Society for Gynecology and Obstetrics (DGGG): Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM) - Evidence-based guideline on diagnostics, therapy and follow-up care; Class S3. AWMF register no .: 057/008; Status: 08/31/2011, valid until 08/31/2016

Kleinwechselter H: New German guideline on gestational diabetes: Consequences for practice. In: Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 2013; 6 (4)

Weyerstahl T, Stauber M: Gynecology and Obstetrics. Duale series, 4th edition 2013; Georg Thieme Verlag, Stuttgart

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