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What expectant mothers need to know about gestational diabetes

When a woman in Indiana discovers that she is pregnant, she probably already understands that she is facing several months of check-ups, exams and medical tests. According to the Mayo Clinic, one standard screening reveals gestational diabetes mellitus, which is a condition that generally begins in the second half of a pregnancy. 

Diagnosis of GDM is critical because of the effects and risks this condition can cause for both mother and child. Mothers have an increased likelihood of high blood pressure and preeclampsia, as well as being at risk of type 2 diabetes later in life.

Complications for babies during and after the birth could be more serious. One side effect is a birth weight over nine pounds. This creates a risk of becoming trapped in the birth canal, which then raises the risk of birth injuries. Often, a C-section is necessary. A doctor may recommend an induction or C-section before the baby reaches full term because of the risks associated with size. Preterm births also come with risks, though, such as respiratory distress syndrome. The baby could develop low blood sugar, as well, and this sometimes causes seizures. Stillbirths and deaths soon after the birth are also possible effects.

The necessity for diagnosis is clear, but as Fit Pregnancy reports, some researchers believe the timeliness of the testing may be in question. In the U.S., the screening is typically done between 24 and 28 weeks, but studies show that by the time many women receive the diagnosis, the babies have already been affected. There is an argument that testing before 24 weeks may predate the development of GDM, though. Some experts recommend testing as close to 24 weeks as possible to counter both of these issues.

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