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What is gestational diabetes?

This blog will discuss several birth injuries in five posts in order to shed some light on these conditions. The first post discussed excessive jaundice and kernicterus in newborns. The second and third post discussed brachial plexus injuries, brachial palsy, Erb's palsy and shoulder dystocia. This post will discuss gestational diabetes and the birth injuries that can result if the condition is misdiagnosed or mismanaged.

Gestational diabetes is diabetes that begins or is first diagnosed when a woman is pregnant. High blood sugar can result if pregnancy hormones block insulin from breaking down glucose. Certain risk factors can be present to increase a women's risk for gestational diabetes and her obstetrician should recognize these risk factors.

These risk factors include having high blood pressure or being overweight before your pregnancy, or if there is sugar present in your urine when you visit the doctor for a prenatal visit. Every woman should be screened for gestational diabetes around the sixth month of pregnancy and earlier if there are risk factors present.

Once a woman is diagnosed with gestational diabetes, she and her baby must have their health monitored closely for the rest of the pregnancy. If a mother with gestational diabetes is not diagnosed with the condition, her baby can experience serious health problems or even die.

Gestational diabetes can lead to a larger baby, which means that the baby may be at risk for certain birth injuries during birth, such as shoulder dystocia or brachial plexus injuries if delivered vaginally.

Source: U.S. National Library of Medicine, PubMed Health, "Gestational diabetes," September 11, 2010

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