Preventing or controlling Gestational diabetes, the kind of diabetes diagnosed during pregnancy, is important for the health of both mothers and their babies. Researchers at he University of KwaZulu-Natal, in Durban, South Africa, looked at the developing hearts of fetuses to discover what effects Gestational diabetes might have on them.
Their study, reported on in the journal Prenatal Diagnostics in August 2014, included…
- 29 pregnant women diagnosed with Gestational diabetes, and
- 29 women with healthy pregnancies.
Doppler echocardiography showed pictures of the fetal hearts and how they actually beat. It was found on average, fetuses whose mothers had Gestational diabetes needed more blood to feed oxygen to their heart muscles than did fetuses of healthy mothers. The need for more oxygen indirectly indicates hearts struggling to beat. The left ventricles, the chambers of hearts that send blood from the lungs to the rest of the body, appeared stiff, making it difficult for them to fill with blood. One baby with heart problems was born dead while another baby died during the first month after birth.
To avoid developing Gestational diabetes or diabetes of pregnancy, lose any excess weight before conception. A body mass index below 25 indicates the mother-to-be you is not overweight. One pound of human fat contains 3500 calories, so eating a maintenance diet minus 500 calories per day will cause a loss of one pound per week. Eating food high in fiber and low in sugar is also helpful for weight loss, so emphasize vegetables and fruits in planning your diet.
Daily exercise, such as walking, swimming, dancing, or riding a bike, are also helpful. Gestational diabetes is much like Type 2 diabetes in that it is caused due to insulin resistance. Aerobic exercise, the kind of physical activity that makes your heart beat and breathing speed up, is good for lowering insulin resistance.
Doppler echocardiography is a kind of ultrasound performed if there is some reason for suspicion a fetal heart could have abnormalities. Gel is placed over the mother’s abdomen and a transducer touches the gel. It gives off sound waves that bounce off the fetus’ heart, showing its structures and how the blood flows through their heart. It can be ordered…
- if the mother has diabetes,
- if a routine ultrasound showed possible abnormalities, or
- if there is any other reason to suspect a problem.
If a heart problem is found, a specialist in fetal cardiology can be consulted and the treatment options then discussed.