Gestational diabetes may have implications later in life

Diabetes developed during pregnancy increases a woman’s risk of heart disease later in life.

Gestational diabetes – a condition usually resolved with delivery – indicates possible resistance to insulin. That resistance can increase the risk of heart disease, said Dr. Mohanjit Brar, a cardiovascular disease specialist with St. Elizabeth Healthcare.

 

The best course of action?

“Fundamentally, women who develop gestational diabetes have a higher risk of developing diabetes later in life. They may not have overt diabetes or hypertension – but blood pressure tends to run higher. There could be a constellation of things that could develop,” said Brar.

“They may have some resistance to insulin, which can increase their risk of heart disease,” he said.

Treatment may not be necessary, but women should closely follow their numbers, including blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and weight.

Brar suggested women discuss their history with their OB-GYN and primary care physician. “This is a very young population,” Brar said, which may not be aware of a risk decades down the road. Lifestyle education is the best way to address that risk.

 

If you develop gestational diabetes, the National Institutes of Health recommends:

A test for diabetes 6 to 12 weeks after the baby is born.

  • If blood sugar is in the normal range, tests are recommended every 3 years.
  • If it’s high, you may be pre-diabetic and should be tested annually.

Talk to your doctor about test results and steps to stay healthy.

Increase activity and decrease portion size.

Choose healthy foods such as:

  • Fresh and frozen fruit
  • Fish and lean meats
  • Vegetables, whole grains, dried beans, and peas
  • Water, not juice or soda

Work with your pediatrician on a nutrition plan for the baby.

  • It should include healthy food choices and lots of physical activity.