Health Team

Gestational diabetes can have lasting effects

Gestational diabetes affects 200,000 pregnant women in the United States each year.

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Gestational diabetes affects 200,000 pregnant women in the United States each year.

New research in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that the more severe the case, the higher the risk of developing adult diabetes.

Joanne Gelsthorpe was seven months pregnant when she was diagnosed gestational diabetes.

"I lost my sweet tooth during pregnancy, and so at that point, I didn't think I was at any risk," she said.

But she took a three-hour glucose challenge test that showed her blood sugar had spiked.

The condition generally goes away after a woman gives birth, but a study of 185,000 expectant moms suggest those who get gestational diabetes are at higher risk of developing diabetes later in life.

“A woman who is being treated with medication for her gestational diabetes, she's at an eight-fold higher risk of developing diabetes within 10 years,” said Dr. Spyros Mezitis of New York City's Lenox Hill Hospital.

Pregnant women can help cut their risks of developing adult diabetes.

“A woman with gestational diabetes needs to be very careful with her lifestyle after delivering her baby, which means a woman has to watch her weight," Mezitis said. "She has to be eating well, avoiding the sweets, and she has to be exercising."

Gelsthorpe said she has already made big changes to her diet.

“Anything white I had to cut out of my diet, white potatoes, white bread, white sugar, anything processed, I knew all that had to go,” she said.

Children born to mothers with gestational diabetes tend to be larger and suffer from jaundice. So eating right is not just critical for keeping mom healthy, but also for baby.



Allen Mask, M.D., Reporter
Rick Armstrong, Photographer

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