National Diabetes Awareness Month Focuses on Gestational Diabetes

Published on November 12, 2019

Pregnant woman check her blood sugar levels

Weld County — About 21,000 or 7% of Weld County residents have some form of diabetes, and one in four people don’t even realize they have the disease. National Diabetes Month is an annual event in November to boost awareness about the risk factors, symptoms, and types of diabetes.

This year, National Diabetes Month is focusing on gestational diabetes. This occurs in women who develop diabetes during pregnancy. Once a woman is diagnosed with this form of diabetes in pregnancy, she risks developing diabetes at some point later in her lifetime. Women may also have a lifelong risk of diabetes if they give birth to a baby weighing more than nine pounds.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), gestational diabetes develops in approximately 2-10% of pregnancies in the United States each year. In Weld County, 42% of live births were to mothers who were overweight or obese based on their body mass index before pregnancy.

Gestational diabetes can cause:

  • An increase in a woman’s blood pressure resulting in a condition known as preeclampsia
  • An increased risk of the woman developing type 2 diabetes later in life
  • A high birth weight of the baby
  • Premature birth
  • The baby having low blood sugar levels at birth

Although gestational diabetes is not always avoidable, a woman looking to conceive should make lifestyle choices that can help her reach and maintain a healthy weight ahead of getting pregnant. Being overweight is a significant risk factor for developing gestational diabetes. If you’re overweight, you can take the following steps to prepare for pregnancy:

  • Work to improve your diet and eat healthy foods focusing on vegetables, fruits, and whole grains
  • Establish a regular exercise routine working toward at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily
  • Talk with your doctor about the best way for you to lose weight since even a few pounds can make a difference in your risk level for gestational diabetes