Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 23 August 2019

Pregnant women missing symptoms of gestational diabetes

The symptoms are similar to the side effects of pregnancy, with women finding an unusual thirst, frequent urination and general fatigue

Pregnant women may be missing the symptoms of gestational diabetes as they are similar to many of the side effects of pregnancy, a UAE expert has warned.

Despite regular awareness campaigns and the availability of information in hospitals, clinics and online, some pregnant women are still not well-informed about the serious complications of gestational diabetes mellitus during pregnancy.

Symptoms include unusual thirst, frequent urination and general fatigue, which many women experience during pregnancy anyway.

Dr Eman Deemas, obstetrician gynaecologist at Sharjah University hospital, said that 10 per cent of the pregnant women who visited the hospital this year were not aware they were suffering from GDM.

“So far this year, we have seen 50 pregnant women a month, of which 10 per cent did not know that they had diabetes,” she said.

She said that 20 to 30 per cent of women in the UAE have been diagnosed with diabetes, and a family history or genetic predisposition puts women at high risk of GDM.

Mothers-to-be should be made aware so they can recognise diabetes symptoms, such as frequent vaginal, bladder and skin infections, as well as blurred vision.

Pregnant women can develop gestational diabetes after the twentieth week of pregnancy and are usually advised to conduct blood sugar tests between the 24th to 28th weeks of pregnancy, said Dr Deemas.

The test involves drinking a sugary liquid before a blood sample is taken to measure glucose levels an one hour.

If for any a test is not conducted at this time, the pregnant woman should insist on having one, she said.

“Excess glucose passes from the mother's bloodstream through the placenta, which can result in serious pregnancy complications,” she said.

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If left untreated, gestational diabetes can increase risks during delivery, among other serious complication.

“I had no idea this could happen to me. I used to hear the term pregnancy diabetes, but I thought it was only among women who had diabetes before they got pregnant, or those who ate too many sweets,” said Nora Noufal, whose child suffered from jaundice after she contracted GDM.

Although she had been getting her health checked at a public clinic in Dubai, she was not aware she had developed GDM during her pregnancy.

The complications of her untreated condition resulted in the premature birth of her baby boy at 32 weeks, weighing just 2 kilogrammes and suffering from jaundice.

Following this incident, Nora educated herself about the condition and made sure to follow up properly during her second pregnancy.

“We should not be shy to say that we don’t know and ask, it will protect us and our kids from any complications,” she said.

Updated: December 23, 2018 12:48 PM

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