Gestational diabetes is a life altering condition in women who are expecting a baby. Often leading to significant health complications in both the pregnant woman and the baby, obstetricians struggle to balance nutrition, exercise and environmental factors in women who are at risk for this metabolic complication. If you are expecting a baby, it is important to understand how your environment may play a significant role in the development of gestational diabetes during pregnancy.
One environmental factor that has played a significant role in the development of type 2 diabetes among adults involves the exposure to arsenic. When pregnant, the exposure to arsenic may play a factor in not only your development of type 2 diabetes later in life, but may also lead to the development of gestational diabetes during pregnancy. It is important, therefore, to discuss your arsenic exposure with your obstetrician and when exposure seems of concern, find ways in which to reduce exposure and test of gestational diabetes on a more aggressive protocol.
Impaired glucose tolerance is common among adults with a history of any level of arsenic exposure. In women who are pregnant, there may be an exponentially greater risk for impaired glucose tolerance which ultimately leads to gestational diabetes. Testing for gestational diabetes during pregnancy is vital and important to the long term care of your baby. When the risk is significant, your obstetrician may want to aggressively adjust your diet and exercise regimen during pregnancy to be sure that there is some degree of off-set from the risk for development gestational diabetes in response to your arsenic exposure.
Weight gain should be managed during pregnancy as well as this will help to offset the arsenic exposure and risk for gestational diabetes with pregnancy. Testing for gestational diabetes typically occurs during the second trimester of pregnancy but, when at-risk for developing the complication, your obstetrician may opt to obtain baseline glucose studies early in pregnancy and then in the third trimester as well. Even when the glucose tolerance testing is normal in the second trimester, this does not mean your risk is negated in the third trimester.
Gestational diabetes is an adverse health complication that affects pregnant women and often in response to poor diet and exercise. For women who are exposed to arsenic before and during pregnancy, there is a risk for developing glucose intolerance complications that will ultimately lead to an at-risk pregnancy for gestational diabetes. When visiting with your obstetrician, be sure to discuss the risks of arsenic and determine if additional diabetes testing is necessary.
Sources: Clinical of Obstetrics and Gynecology 50(4):972-978.