Gestational diabetes: Dangerous for Mother and Child

Risk factors include being overweight, being over 30 years old and having a hereditary predisposition. However, this form of diabetes can also occur without known risk factors. As part of the Austrian mother-child passport examinations, a test to determine blood sugar (oral glucose tolerance test) is carried out on expectant mothers between the 24th and 28th weeks of pregnancy.

Gestational diabetes can also have an impact on the unborn child, as elevated blood sugar levels can also be passed on to the baby, and the child's pancreas produces more insulin. This causes the unborn child to grow stronger, which in turn can lead to problems during birth.

A healthy, balanced diet and sufficient exercise during pregnancy not only help prevent gestational diabetes, but can also usually sufficiently lower the blood sugar of affected women.

The long-term risk of chronic type 2 diabetes is particularly high in affected women, even if their blood sugar levels return to normal after pregnancy.

“Mothers with gestational diabetes can greatly reduce the risk of developing manifest diabetes later in life by breastfeeding their newborn,” emphasizes senior physician Dr. Liliana Grabner, a specialist in gynecology and obstetrics in the Goldenes Kreuz Private Hospital.

Healthy eating during pregnancy

A good supply of energy and nutrients is particularly important during pregnancy. A balanced, varied and tolerable diet with sufficient vitamins and nutrients is essential for the expectant mother and the unborn child, advises Elisabeth Breuer, dietitian at the Goldenes Kreuz Private Hospital.

The energy intake requirements increase by around 250 kcal from the 13th to the 27th week of pregnancy. From the 28th to 40th week of pregnancy, the calorie intake should increase by an additional 500 kcal.

  • Eat five meals – three main meals and two snacks – throughout the day.
  • Drink at least 1.5 liters: water, mineral water, unsweetened tea and highly diluted natural fruit and vegetable juices are best.
  • You can drink coffee, but it is advisable to drink not more than two to three cups per day. Be careful also with green and black tea: drink a maximum of four cups a day.
  • Beverages high in caffeine such as energy drinks and drinks containing quinine, such as tonic water and bitter lemon, should be avoided. Also avoid alcohol as it can endanger your child's health.
  • Enjoy five handfuls of vegetables, legumes and fruit every day - three hands of vegetables and/or legumes and two hands of fruit.
  • From the 13th week of pregnancy we recommend an extra portion of vegetables. The more colorful you make your food, the better!
  • Four handfuls of potatoes and grains every day, preferably whole grains, contribute to a balanced diet. Whole grain products contain valuable vitamins, minerals and fiber.
  • Please make sure that you drink enough when eating whole grain products, otherwise there is a risk of constipation.

The dieticians at the Goldenes Kreuz Private Clinic also offer outpatient nutritional advice for pregnant women. E: diaetologie@goldenes-kreuz.at.

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