According to the American Diabetes Association, gestational diabetes affects 4% to 8% of all pregnant women, and about 135, 000 women in the United States each year. Gestational diabetes only occurs during pregnancy and glucose levels typically return to normal after pregnancy. The risk for the mother includes preeclampsia during pregnancy, while the developing fetus may be born jaundiced and hypoglycemic. There is also an associated risk that gestational diabetics and their babies will develop Type 2 diabetes in their lifetime.
The symptoms of gestational diabetes often go undetected as increased urination may be associated with pregnancy. Increased thirst is also a silent symptom. Women should be routinely tested in their 24th to 28th week of pregnancy with a glucose tolerance test. This should be done earlier if there is a history of gestational diabetes.
While any woman can have gestational diabetes there are known risk factors per the Mayo Clinic:
- Age. Women older than age 25 are at higher risk.
- Family or personal history. Your chance of developing gestational diabetes increases if a close family member, such as a parent or sibling, has type 2 diabetes, or you had gestational diabetes in a prior pregnancy.
- Weight. Being overweight before pregnancy makes it more likely that you’ll develop gestational diabetes, though weight during your pregnancy doesn’t cause gestational diabetes.
- Race. While it is unknown why, you’re at increased risk if you’re black, Hispanic or American Indian.
- Previous complicated pregnancy. If you’ve had an unexplained stillbirth or a baby who weighed more than 9 pounds, you should be monitored more closely for gestational diabetes the next time you become pregnant.
For more information o see the Mayo Clinic site.
The GEstational DIabetes Act or GEDI.
In 2006, Senators Hilary Clinton and Susan Collins introduced the Gestational Diabetes Act, which is being supported by the American Diabetes Association.
The Office of Legislative Policy and Analysis which links the National Institute of Health and Congress gives this update on the Gestational Diabetes Act:
S. 3914, the “Gestational Diabetes Act of 2006.” The bill would require that CDC and NICHD, acting in consultation with NIDDK, expand research regarding gestational diabetes and obesity during pregnancy. The bill would also require CDC to establish a research advisory committee (which would include an NIH representative), to develop a “multisite, gestational diabetes research project within the diabetes program of the CDC to expand and enhance surveillance data and public health research on gestational diabetes.” Other provisions would require CDC to award demonstration grants to reduce the incidence of gestational diabetes, and to encourage screening for gestational diabetes through existing state-based diabetes programs. The bill has two cosponsors and was referred to the Senate HELP Committee.
To send a message of support for the Gestational Diabetes Act to your congressional representative, visit the American Diabetes Association advocacy pages.