Gestational diabetes on the rise, causing complications for moms & babies

A report from the CDC said cases have increased by 30 percent over the last several years.
Published: Aug. 31, 2022 at 7:54 AM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Gestational diabetes is on the rise for pregnant women across the country. A report from the CDC said cases have increased by 30 percent over the last several years.

It is a condition where an expectant mother’s high blood sugar can affect her health and her baby’s health.

“If you don’t find out you have gestational diabetes, and you carry your pregnancy to term, you can have a very large baby,” said Dr. Victoria Bourgeois, an OB/GYN with Baton Rouge General. “The baby is at risk for low blood sugar.”

Like the national trend, cases are also rising in the Capital Area.

“Locally the prevalence here may be up to about 10%,” said Bourgeois.

She said gestational diabetes is diagnosed in the second half of pregnancy. It happens when a pregnant woman gets more resistant to insulin, which makes it harder for her to clear the sugar from the blood.

“During the pregnancy, what it means for her is that she has to be very cautious about what she eats because essentially she’s sensitive to sugar,” said Bourgeois.

This graph shows the skyrocketing number of gestational diabetes among women from 2016 to 2020.

A graph from the CDC shows gestational diabetes in women from 2016 to 2020.
A graph from the CDC shows gestational diabetes in women from 2016 to 2020.(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw moms less active, people were stuck at home, they weren’t doing their normal routines and so they missed out on a lot of exercise benefits,” she said.

Risk factors include obesity and a sedentary lifestyle. It can also be hereditary and hard to avoid. Bourgeois said there aren’t many symptoms and that’s why screening is so important.

Another risk factor is weight gain between pregnancies.

It is a good idea for moms to try to get back to their pre-pregnancy weight before their next pregnancy. Staying active also helps.

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