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Diet, diabetes and pregnancy

Friday September 24 2010

PHOTO/FILE

PHOTO/FILE 

By JOY WANJA, [email protected]

More expectant mothers are today at risk of developing diabetes due to worshipping unhealthy fatty diets. This is an observation by Dr Wafula Nalwa, a  Nairobi gynaecologist, who warns that the bigger your baby tummy, the more likely it that it could pose a problem.

“Having an unusually extended stomach does not necessarily mean you or the baby are healthy,” warns Dr Wafula.
It could be gestational diabetes caused by an unhealthy lifestyle, Dr Wafula adds.

Gestational diabetes refers to the condition where non-diabetic women develop high blood sugar during pregnancy.
Diabetes is a chronic metabolic disorder that occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces.

“This leads to elevated blood sugar levels known as hyperglycaemia which may lead to damage of body organs,” Dr Wafula points out.

Obesity is among the pre-disposing factors that can make one develop diabetes during pregnancy even in instances where it did not exist before. Overweight and obesity are defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a risk to health.

“You may crave for that plate of chips, sausage and soda while pregnant but eventually, it is not healthy for you and the baby,” Dr Wafula warns expectant mothers.
Though the above diet is also not advisable for other women, it poses more dangers for the expectant ones.

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“Some have also given up walking in favour of taxis and lifts,” Dr Wafula says adding that physical exercise is crucial when one is expecting.

Gestational diabetes is known to affect about two to four percent of pregnant women and their unborn baby.

Dr Wafula Nalwa warns that this type of diabetes does not have symptoms and that all a woman may experience is extreme fatigue, excessive thirst and frequent urination.
One is advised to visit a doctor who will run a blood test to confirm the diagnosis.

“Some of the common symptoms associated with diabetes are frequent urination, excessive thirst and hunger,” Dr Wafula adds.

Studies indicate that early detection and treatment of diabetes can decrease the chances of developing the complication of diabetes.

Some of the risks the mother faces if diagnosed with gestational diabetes include excessive fatigue, a higher risk of getting an infection and a higher risk of having a premature birth.

Some of the risks her baby may face include a high birth weight and low blood sugar levels at birth. Severe jaundice and infant respiratory distress syndrome are other dangers posed for the baby.

“After birth, the blood sugar levels for women who have gestational diabetes usually returns to normal in 50 per cent of the women,” Dr Wafula says.

Women who have had gestational diabetes during pregnancy have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes during their lifetime and their baby may also experience a higher risk of developing this illness. So what are some of the ways to keep obesity at bay?

Dr Wafula urges all women to  increase their consumption of fruit and vegetables, as well as legumes, whole grains and nuts. Limiting the intake of sugars is also another of the smart ways to stay healthy.

“Take at least 30 minutes walk every day,”  Dr Wafula advises adding that a healthy diet and lifestyle are important in order to control blood sugar levels.
“Spare time for rest, adequate sleep, and exercise regularly,” Dr Wafula advises.

Keep your appointment with your doctors because insulin injections may be prescribed if the gestational diabetes worsens, Dr Wafula adds.

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