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Gestational diabetes: Know the facts

Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that occurs during a pregnancy. If untreated, complications may occur during the pregnancy and birth, for both mother and fetus. Most times, gestational diabetes is self-correcting and goes away after delivery. Women who have had gestational diabetes, though, are at higher risk to develop diabetes later in life.

According to the National Diabetes Education Program, or NDEP, gestational diabetes may affect as many as up to 18 percent of all pregnancies. Children born from pregnancies affected by gestational diabetes may also be at higher risk for obesity and Type 2 diabetes compared to other children. Thus, early diagnosis and treatment positively impact both mother and child.

Simple lifestyle changes, including a healthy diet, increased activity, smoking cessation, weight loss if indicated and stress reduction all positively impact one’s health and directly lowers the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. These same lifestyle changes also reduce the risk of most chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, and cancer. Simple changes in one’s diet yields a great result. Healthy food choices such as fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, lean meats, and whole grains help with weight loss, and overall improved cardiovascular health. Simple changes in activity- walking instead of driving somewhere, taking the stairs instead of the elevator- will also aid in weight loss.

For more information on gestational diabetes, as well as general information on diabetes and lifestyle recommendations, visit your local chapter of the American Diabetes Association.