A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

National Diabetes Month: Experts raising awareness of gestational diabetes among pregnant Kentuckians

By Mary Kuhlman
Public News Service

National Diabetes Month started this week, and at 14 percent, Kentucky has the third-highest rate of diabetes in the U.S. While diabetes can affect people of all age groups, experts are particularly concerned about gestational diabetes in women, or abnormal blood-sugar levels during pregnancy.

An increasing body of research indicates the problem doesn’t stop when the baby is born, says Dr. Griffin Rodgers, director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, so it’s important to take precautions.

Women with a history of gestational diabetes are encouraged to maintain healthy habits during pregnancy (Photo from Freestocks.org, via PNS)

“Women with a history of gestational diabetes can take modest but important steps for themselves and their children to prevent or delay the onset of Type 2 diabetes,” he advises. “Keep up healthy habits. See a dietician or a diabetic educator to guide them.”

Rodgers says about half of all women who had gestational diabetes will develop Type 2 diabetes later in life, and their children have a greater chance of becoming obese.

He recommends women and their families work to maintain healthy weights, with good nutrition and daily exercise.

Rodgers says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doesn’t keep specific data for gestational diabetes, but it stands to reason that with a high rate of diabetes in Kentucky, the trend would include pregnant moms.

“In general, there’s a fairly good correlation between the prevalence of the disease in the state and the likelihood that the women in the state would follow that rate.”

Diabetes can lead to such serious health problems as heart disease, blindness, kidney disease and limb amputations.

Experts believe as many as 108,000 people in Kentucky have diabetes but are undiagnosed.

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