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Health Team

Study: Gestational diabetes better with treatment

Posted September 30, 2009 5:40 p.m. EDT
Updated September 30, 2009 7:59 p.m. EDT

— Kristen Dang had no family history of diabetes and no other risk factors, but she developed gestational diabetes while pregnant with her daughter, Iris.

“There’s an initial test and I failed that one and then they bring you back…for a second test and I failed that one,” Dang said.

Dang was diagnosed with high blood sugar six months into her pregnancy.

For a pregnant woman, the illness raises the risk of preeclampsia or high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and the need for a Caesarean section.

For the baby, it raises the risk of still birth, a birth weight over 9 pounds, birth trauma and some chemical imbalances like bilirubin or hypoglycemia.

A new study at UNC Hospitals looked at whether treating the condition really improves the outcome.

Dr. John Thorp, the study’s author, said treating the condition resulted in less weight gain, fewer Caesarean section sections, fewer hypertensive disorders of pregnancy and more babies, like Iris, born under 9 pounds.

Thorp said the treatment can be very simple.

“Over 90 percent were treated just with a low-carbohydrate diet and did not require the use of insulin,” Thorp said.

A diet adjustment is all Dang needed to bring her blood sugar down.

Iris is now 7 weeks old and both mom and daughter are healthy and happy.

Doctors say women can reduce their risk of gestational diabetes by achieving and maintaining a normal weight. Expectant mothers should get regular moderate exercise and eat a healthy diet.