Pregnancy : Gestational Diabetes During Pregnancy

Shannon Muchmore

Nearly one in 10 Oklahoma mothers have gestational diabetes, which can put the mother and baby at risk, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

A woman who has gestational diabetes, a glucose intolerance diagnosed during pregnancy, may not be aware of the disease unless tested for it.

It should be considered a priority. If it's not treated, it can put the baby at risk for heart defects or possibly developmental disabilities and could cause preeclampsia in the mother.

"There's complications to the mom, and there's complications to the baby that can happen because of high blood sugars," said Kristy Covey, coordinator for the Center for Diabetes and Nutritional Education at the Oklahoma State University Medical Center.

It can also make a mother more likely to need a Caesarean section and can put her and the baby at risk for developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

The best way to reverse the effects of gestational diabetes is to eat healthy and exercise frequently, said Jill Nobles-Botkin, director of perinatal and reproductive health at the state health department.

"Some lifestyle changes can keep it under control for the rest of the pregnancy," she said.

Women most at risk for gestational diabetes are those who are obese, have a family history of diabetes or have previously had glucose intolerance.

Most at risk are those older than 25 and people of American Indian, Hispanic or Asian descent.

Quintella Barnett of Muskogee is five months pregnant. Although she's had diabetes since she was a child, managing it while pregnant is a particular challenge, she said.

"It is hard," she said.

"You have to watch what you eat."

When her family eats pizza, she can only have a couple of slices. Cravings for ice cream must be satisfied with a single scoop of vanilla, she said.

She has to watch her blood sugar carefully and know what foods will affect the levels.

She gets exercise by walking and keeping up with her 2-year-old, she said.

This pregnancy has been easier than her first, when she didn't go to any doctors who worked specifically with diabetes, she said.

"If you find out you have it, see a good specialist," she said.

Covey said Oklahoma's rate of gestational diabetes is relatively high because of high obesity rates and low amounts of physical activity, among other reasons.

"I think it's kind of a combination of a bunch of different factors," she said.

Shannon Muchmore 918-581-8306

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