Reducing The Risk Of Gestational Diabetes Mellitus: What You Should Know
Gestational Diabetes is a common pregnancy condition, and Singaporean mothers are at a higher risk of developing it. But there’s something you can do to reduce the chance of it affecting you and your baby.
You’d be forgiven for thinking, “I don’t have diabetes. I don’t have to worry about this,” but nothing could be further from the truth. Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM) is a common condition among pregnant women with possible serious effects on both you and your baby. If you do have it, the condition must be managed to safeguard the health of mother and child.
The good news is, you can take active steps to reduce the risk factors of Gestational Diabetes. Find out what you can do so that you can have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.
What Is Gestational Diabetes?
Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM) is a condition with many similarities to diabetes. Both conditions arise from problems with how the body deals with insulin, an important hormone that the body needs to turn glucose from food into energy.
In Gestational Diabetes, the mother develops insulin resistance. This results in not being able to make and use all the insulin that you need to convert glucose in your blood to energy. And when you have too much glucose in your blood, a condition called hyperglycemia occurs, together with other complications like high blood pressure.
I Don’t Have Diabetes. Why Should I Be Concerned?
Even women who have no diabetes may develop gestational diabetes when they become pregnant. The risk is higher for certain women, such as those who are overweight or obese, or if you have a family member who has diabetes. Also, depending on your ethnicity, you may be at higher risk of gestational diabetes.
Asian women have a higher risk of developing gestational diabetes compared to Caucasian women. In Singapore, gestational diabetes occurs in one in five pregnancies, according to a study by the National University Hospital (NUH). It is believed that the cause is the high rate of obesity and older maternal age.
Because of this high rate of gestational diabetes, it is advised that all pregnant women have themselves checked at 24 to 28 weeks of pregnancy (unless they already have pre-existing diabetes) through oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT).
What Are the Effects of Gestational Diabetes on My Baby?
GDM can have a number of effects on your child, some of them serious:
- A larger baby. High levels of blood sugar lead to the baby being “overfed”, and this results in a larger baby at full term. This can cause difficulties during delivery. Sometimes, the doctor may opt to deliver the baby before the full term is reached.
- Preterm birth, or stillbirth. In other cases, the baby is born before his or her due date, or in the worst case, the baby may die before birth or shortly after birth.
- Breathing problems. Respiratory distress syndrome, where the newborn has difficulty breathing, sometimes occurs in cases of gestational diabetes.
- Diabetes later on in life. When the mother has gestational diabetes, there is a greater chance that the child will develop diabetes when he or she is an adult.
What Are the Effects of GDM on the Mother?
Gestational Diabetes also increases your risk for a number of health problems:
- High blood pressure. GDM raises your risk of high blood pressure and preeclampsia. This can lead to serious complications for both mother and baby.
- C-section. If diabetes is not properly managed, it is likely that your doctor will recommend that you give birth through C-section to ensure a safe delivery.
- Diabetes in later years. Once you give birth, it is likely that diabetes will go away. However, once you get Gestational Diabetes, your risk of developing diabetes later on in life increases.
What Can I Do To Reduce The Risk Factors Getting Gestational Diabetes?
This may all sound a little scary, but there are things you can do to reduce the risk factors of gestational diabetes. Or if you have GDM, these same things will help to manage your condition.
- Even moderate activity can be a huge benefit to your health. You should aim for 30 minutes of moderate exercise (walking, biking or swimming) most days of the week.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Women in a healthy pregnancy are expected to gain some weight. While this is normal, being overweight is one of the risk factors for gestational diabetes. Starting at a healthy weight can help to keep diabetes at bay.
- Eat Healthy. If you develop gestational diabetes, a specific diet will be prescribed to manage your glucose levels. But even before it gets to that point it is a good idea to eat healthy food. This includes consuming food that is high in fibre and low in calories and fat. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are ideal, while sweets and alcohol should be avoided.
- Manage blood glucose levels. Especially during pregnancy, managing blood glucose levels is important. Elevated blood sugar levels often do not show symptoms until they run well over 200 mg/dL. The recommended frequency of checking glucose levels during the day will vary from person to person. Check with your doctors on their recommendations regarding blood sugar monitoring.
Wyeth Nutrition’s PROMAMA® G-Balance Can Help Maintain Healthy Blood Glucose Level During Pregnancy
PROMAMA® G-Balance is a maternal supplement that is made for pregnant mums like you. It’s pro mama and pro-baby because it supports your health and your baby’s health at the same time.
- It is Singapore’s first and only maternal supplement to support the maintenance of healthy blood glucose level during pregnancy
- It contains Myo-inositol and Probiotics. Research suggests that Myo-inositol1 supplementation may help reduce the risk of developing gestational diabetes, especially when you are at risk. Meanwhile, certain strains of probiotics (Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium), can also help to maintain healthy blood glucose level2, and at the same time, balance good bacteria in your digestive tract.
Gestational Diabetes is a real danger for both mother and child during pregnancy. Thankfully, there are active steps you can take to reduce the risk. Some healthy lifestyle changes in diet and exercise are all it takes. And a maternal supplement like PROMAMA® G-Balance can help support the maintenance of healthy blood glucose level while supporting your pregnancy.
Find out more on PROMAMA® G-Balance here or consult your healthcare practitioner for more information.
PROMAMA® G-Balance is also available at the retail pharmacies of Mount Alvernia Hospital and Thomson Medical Centre.
1 Sobota-Grzeszyk, A et al., Journal of Diabetes Research, 2019: 1-5
2 Luoto, R et al., Br J Nutr, 2010; 103:1792-99