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Normally, the hormone insulin works in your body to control how much glucose (sugar) is in your blood. When you develop insulin resistance, sugar builds up in the blood.

Insulin resistance during pregnancy is called gestational diabetes. While the condition typically goes away after delivery, it can cause complications for mother and baby.

“When untreated, gestational diabetes can cause babies to grow too large in the womb,” said Dr. S. Mark Albini, Chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Saint Mary’s Hospital. “This can cause trauma during birth or the need for a Cesarean section. Additionally, the baby is likely to have hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, during the first few days of life. Women who have gestational diabetes during pregnancy have a greater risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life.”

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

Expectant moms who are 25 or older, have a family history of diabetes, or have high blood pressure are more likely to develop gestational diabetes. Being overweight before conceiving is also a risk factor. Many women with gestational diabetes have no symptoms, but some women may experience:

  • Blurred vision
  • Fatigue
  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Weight loss despite increased appetite

“All pregnant women should receive an oral glucose tolerance test around week 28 of pregnancy,” Dr. Albini said. “Women with additional risk factors may be screened sooner.”

AN EXPERT CAN HELP

Once a woman is diagnosed with gestational diabetes, a referral to an endocrinologist can help the mother-to-be learn to control her diabetes, which promotes a healthier birth. Saint Mary’s obstetricians consult with Dr. Anna Freitag, who is board certified in endocrinology, diabetes, and metabolism. A graduate of the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, Dr. Freitag completed a fellowship in endocrinology and metabolism at Montefiore Medical Center, the University Hospital for Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

“Every expectant mother with gestational diabetes should see a certified diabetes educator,” said Dr. Freitag, Chair of Endocrinology at Saint Mary’s Health System. “It’s essential to strictly control sugars during pregnancy—the better blood sugar is controlled, the better their outcomes will be.”

“As a general endocrinologist, I enjoy treating the gamut of endocrine problems,” Dr. Freitag said. “Even when a patient is referred to me for a specific condition, such as diabetes or a thyroid disorder, I do an entire review of the endocrine system to make sure there are no other problems.”

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Freitag, call (203) 709-5752.

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