Jaclyn Hampson, Senior Manager of Marketing, Communication, and Advocacy- American Diabetes Association of Colorado, Montana, and Wyoming

Starting August 1, all new insurance plans will provide women who are 24 to 28 weeks pregnant, as well as those at high risk for the complication, access to Gestational Diabetes testing, allowing for earlier treatment of the condition and better health outcomes. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, Gestational Diabetes Testing will now be available without a co-pay, providing increased access to the information and care needed to prevent this curious but dangerous disease.

Gestational Diabetes (GDM) left untreated or poorly managed can hurt you and your baby. Anyone can develop gestational diabetes whether or not they had diabetes prior to their pregnancy. That is why it is so important to know your risk and get tested for GDM while you are pregnant.

GDM affects the mother in late pregnancy, after the baby’s body has been formed, but while the baby is busy growing. When you have gestational diabetes, your pancreas works overtime to produce insulin, but the insulin does not lower your blood glucose levels. Extra blood glucose goes through the placenta and since the baby is getting more energy than it needs to grow and develop, the extra energy is stored as fat.

This can lead to macrosomia, or a “fat” baby. Babies with macrosomia face health problems of their own, including damage to their shoulders during birth. Because of the extra insulin made by the baby’s pancreas, newborns may have very low blood glucose levels at birth and are at a higher risk for breathing problems. Babies with excess insulin become children who are at risk for obesity and adults who are at risk for type 2 diabetes.

The good news is that once gestational diabetes is diagnosed there is a treatment plan to keep you and your baby healthy. Treatment for gestational diabetes aims to keep blood glucose levels equal to those of pregnant women who don’t have gestational diabetes. Treatment always includes special meal plans and scheduled physical activity. It may also include daily blood glucose testing and insulin injections.

While Gestational Diabetes develops during pregnancy and goes away once the baby is born, that’s not the end of the story. If you had GDM your chances are high it will come back in future pregnancies. And women who had GDM are much more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. Knowing you and your child are at risk for type 2 diabetes allows you to prevent the onset of the disease by continuing a healthy lifestyle after your baby is born.

It is estimated that gestational diabetes affects 18% of all pregnancies. With increased access to Gestational Diabetes Screenings from no copays, mothers-to-be keep themselves and their babies healthy, decrease the incidence of type 2 diabetes in their future, and get the care they need, when they need it. For more information on gestational diabetes, visit www.diabetes.org/colorado.

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