Current recommended blood glucose target levels during pregnancy
Meanwhile, for the purpose of this piece, cited here are current gestational blood sugar levels obtained from publications of the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse, a department of the National Institute of Health, and from publications of the Canadian Diabetes Association's Clinical Practice Guidelines for 2008. The values for the United States are given in mg/dL, meaning milligrams per deciliter, while most other countries use mmol/L, meaning millimols per liter.
Fasting blood sugar levels should not be above 95 mg/dL, which is 5.3 mmol/L
One hour after a meal they should not be above 140 mg/dL, which is 7.8 mmol/L
Two hours after a meal they should not be above 120 mg/dL, which is 6.7 mmol/L
The Canadian Diabetes Association source states that the A1c level for most pregnant women should not be greater than 6%. A1c levels provide a measure of blood sugars over the prior approximately 12- week period.
A1c levels are determined by a laboratory analysis after a blood sample is taken by a registered clinic. Other daily blood sugar readings can be obtained from a self-administered blood test using an appropriate blood glucose meter.
There is much that a newly pregnant woman must be aware of in taking care of her own health and that of her developing child and high on that list would be the choices of nutritious foods.
One of the considerations regarding specific food choices for the pregnant woman, is to take into account the effect of a food item on her blood glucose levels, not something that most people are aware of, but with the growing incidence of diabetes in our world today, it pays to know and understand some of the risks that higher than normal blood sugar levels can pose. And it could be easy for the symptoms of gestational diabetes to go unnoticed as the body is going through many changes as the pregnancy progresses.
The condition of persistent elevated blood glucose levels that occurs in about 5 to 7 percent of pregnant women is a temporary form of diabetes called Gestational Diabetes that ends after a the birth of the baby. Although not common compared with normal diabetes, the condition is being diagnosed in increasing numbers and for some of those who do become diabetic it does increase the risk of developing, later in life, the full version of diabetes known as Type-2 and also increases the risk of developing cardiovascular disease after pregnancy.
Also, some women already suffer from diabetes when they become pregnant and those diabetics definitely face their own set of special problems that carry serious implications for the mother-to-be and for her fetus during pregnancy and perhaps for the longer term beyond, after the birth of the baby. In these cases, the medical professionals are well prepared with established guidelines to monitor and care for the diabetic who becomes pregnant and this lessens the risk to mother and baby and helps prevent the development of diabetic complications during pregnancy.
Important new conclusions that currently accepted blood sugar levels are not safe for baby and mother
In late February of this year, 2010, it was reported by the Northwestern University News Center in Chicago that an extensive study by a panel of 50 experts, coordinated by researchers at the university's Feinberg School of Medicine, concluded that the blood sugar levels considered normal should be revised downward, that currently accepted levels are not safe. This would increase the number of pregnant women facing the possibility of gestational diabetes by two or three times.
The study, to be published in the March issue of the American Diabetes Association's magazine Diabetes Care, involved medical histories of over 23 thousand women from nine countries. The lead author of the study, Boyd Metzger, M.D. a professor of Metabolism and Nutrition at the Feinberg School, said "Our research represents an examination of the risks and a consensus about how high a level of risks needs to reach before a diagnosis is made and treatment should be considered."
Anyone with diabetes must be under the care of a doctor
Health authorities report a growing incidence globally of gestational diabetes and even in the United States I have seen reference to numbers suggesting they are almost double the percentage of 7 percent cited above. As in all forms of diabetes and pre-diabetes, the individual must be under the care of a doctor and supported by an effective health care team. Excellent pre-natal healthcare and advice is readily available to most in North America, as it is in most other developed nations of the world.
Early diagnosis and treatment of even the mildest form of gestational diabetes is important because it can help prevent or lower the possibility of more serious complications developing later. Treatment will most likely involve the adoption of suitable dietary plan for all meals and snacks together with an exercise routine - which is usually beneficial in all pregnancies - and maybe the monitoring of daily glucose levels by a simple self-administered blood test using a hand held meter the same way that regular diabetics do.
We hear nowadays of so many larger babies being born and the need for caesarian surgery. And gestational diabetes, if not treated properly, leads to larger babies, sometime already obese at birth, with often complicated deliveries and a higher risk of birth defects and long-term health problems.
The wonders, the thrills and the excitement in the miracle of the birth of a baby should not be impaired with the complications of gestational diabetes, every necessary step should be taken to prevent or minimize the condition. It is all about maintaining normal blood glucose levels