If you or a loved one is pregnant, you need to know about gestational diabetes.

John Fisher
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Stopping Medical Injustice

Thousands of pregnant US women develop diabetes during pregnancy, but are not diagnosed or treated, according to a new study by author, Jon Nakamoto, of Quest Diagnostics, the nation's largest laboratory.  Should this concern you?  If you or a loved one is pregnant, it better.

Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that is only present during pregnancy that is well known to significantly increase the risk to the baby.  Gestational diabetes is not caused by obesity or poor healthcare of the mother and it can be present in virtually any pregnancy.  Gestational diabetes increases the risk of a "big baby", known by the medical term, LGA or "large for gestational age", and other health problems, such as premature birth and birth defects.  Gestational diabetes also increases the mother's risk of pre-eclampsia, a blood pressure condition that can be life-threatening to mother and child.

Here's the sad part of the new study: gestational diabetes is diagnosed with a simple blood test given to mother's during the 18th to 20th week of gestation.  Gestational diabetes is not difficult to diagnose or treat and treatment of this condition can significantly reduce potentially serious health risks to the mother and baby.  So why aren't obstetricians and nurse midwives testing for gestational diabetes?

According to the American Diabetes Association, about one-third of pregnant women out of a study of almost one million pregnant women were never tested for gestational diabetes.  Furthermore, 19% of women diagnosed with gestational diabetes were not screened for diabetes in the six months after giving birth.  This is particularly disturbing because more than half of women with gestational diabetes will go on to develop diabetes long-term.

If new screening recommendations are approved in the US, the number of cases of gestational diabetes (now counted as 135,000 per year in the US by the American Diabetes Association) will almost double.  This will be good news for mothers and their babies, who should not be kept in the dark about this potentially serious condition.

If you or a loved one is pregnant, make sure you ask your obstetrician or nurse mid-wife for the blood test that screens for gestational diabetes. Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to your health and particularly when it comes to your baby.

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