Diabetes in pregnancy (gestational diabetes)
During pregnancy, some women have such high levels of glucose in their blood that their body cannot produce enough insulin to absorb it all. This is known as gestational diabetes, and it affects approximately 5% of pregnant women.
Pregnancy can also make existing type 1 diabetes worse.
Gestational diabetes can increase the risk of health problems in an unborn baby, so it is important to keep the levels of glucose in your blood under control.
In most cases, gestational diabetes develops in the second half of pregnancy and disappears after the baby is born. However, women who develop gestational diabetes are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes later in life.
Diabetes is a long-term condition caused by too much glucose, a type of sugar, in the blood. It is also known as diabetes mellitus.
How does diabetes occur?
Normally, the amount of sugar in the blood is controlled by a hormone called insulin, which is produced by the pancreas. The pancreas is a gland behind the stomach. When food is digested and enters your bloodstream, insulin moves any glucose out of the blood and into cells, where it is broken down to produce energy.
However, in people with diabetes, the body is unable to break down glucose into energy. This is because there is either not enough insulin to move the glucose, or because the insulin that is there does not work properly.
There are two types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. This article focuses on type 1 diabetes.
What is type 1 diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body produces no insulin. It is often referred to as insulin-dependent diabetes. It is also sometimes known as juvenile diabetes or early-onset diabetes because it usually develops before the age of 40, often during the teenage years.
Type 1 diabetes is far less common than type 2 diabetes, which occurs when the body produces too little insulin or when the cells in the body do not react properly to insulin. People with type 1 diabetes make up only 10% of all people with diabetes.
If you have type 1 diabetes, you will need to take insulin injections for life. You must also make sure that your blood glucose levels stay balanced by eating a healthy diet and carrying out regular blood tests.
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