Sleep Deprivation And Gestational Diabetes: Are They Connected? Essay

Pregnant mothers have one of the most important jobs available in the natural world. These women are the individuals that are currently responsible for bringing new life into the world. The roles of these women extend to greater lengths than most people realize. Recently in the world of medicine, “new research in the United States has found a link between a lack of sleep during pregnancy and an increased risk of gestational diabetes. Carried out by the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine, the large-scale meta-analysis looked at eight studies which included 17,308 pregnant women”. From these figures, researchers have discovered much about how gestational health conditions actually effect pregnant women. In fact, “all of the studies asked the women to self-report on their sleep duration, except one which measured sleep objectively using an accelerometer, and assessed the women for gestational diabetes”. Pregnant mothers generally have their child’s best interest at heart, so they do their best to maintain their health while pregnant. However, some pregnancies are the cause for a woman’s health condition. Usually, the health issues that the pregnant mothers have vanish after their child is born. Despite that fact, the child of the mother may or may not have also contracted a health condition. In some instances, the health condition of the child can be permanent. This can be avoided if proper care is taken, but mothers are not always aware of these conditions and its parameters. Supposedly, there is a link between gestational diabetes and sleep deprivation in expectant mothers. If this link truly has a positive correlation, then pregnant mothers need to reevaluate the health decisions that they make.

What is gestational diabetes?

There are several forms of diabetes and each variation of the condition involves the use of insulin. Insulin is secreted into the blood stream in order to properly regulate the natural blood glucose level that provides energy to the body. Gestational diabetes can become problematic if left untreated because the energy of the mother is being shared with the child. Medical experts claim that “gestational diabetes develops during pregnancy (gestation). Like other types of diabetes, gestational diabetes affects how your cells use sugar (glucose). Gestational diabetes causes high blood sugar that can affect your pregnancy and your baby’s health”. As stated earlier, the health of the baby is solely dependent on the mother of that child. If a mother does believe that she is at risk for gestational diabetes, then it is her responsibility as a parent to consult with her doctor about the issue. The blood glucose level of the mother is constantly being utilized by the child. In some cases, “your doctor may refer you to additional health professionals who specialize in diabetes, such as an endocrinologist, a registered dietitian or a diabetes educator. They can help you learn to manage your blood sugar level during your pregnancy”. Learning to manage blood sugar levels is a discipline that must be put into practice. However, for pregnant mothers with gestational diabetes, time is a crucial factor.

What exactly did the data uncover?

Much is known about the treatment methods for gestational diabetes, but not much is known about its causes. Other than the hormone imbalances associated with pregnancy, not many other conclusions were drawn as to how gestational diabetes occurs. As a result of this absence of knowledge, a team of researchers joined together to try to find a solution. In fact, “the team also gathered data from the authors of four additional studies which measured the blood sugar levels and sleep duration objectively in 287 pregnant women with gestational diabetes”. By creating a diverse group of test patients, the researchers gained the ability to see how each woman reacted during the experiments. The sleeping patterns of these women also needed to be examined by the doctors conducting the tests. For instance, “after carrying out their analysis, the researchers found that an average of less than six hours sleep a night was associated with a 1.7 fold increase in the risk of being diagnosed with gestational diabetes”. Sleep has always been a major aspect for a healthy pregnancy and a healthy lifestyle overall. During sleep, the body is doing large amounts of work healing itself. When a pregnant woman sleeps, the child inside of her takes this time to do most of its growing. When it comes to gestational diabetes and sleep, “the team also found from the studies where sleep was measured objectively that those who slept less than 6.25 hours per night had a 2.84 fold increase in risk of having the condition compared to women who slept more than 6.25 hours per night. These women also had higher blood sugar levels on their screening test”. These tests all point towards the link between gestational diabetes and poor sleeping habits. After pregnant women are informed of this fact, they now need to concern themselves with how they can better protect their unborn children.

How to treat sleep disorders and avoid gestational diabetes

From a fundamental standpoint, quite a bit can be done in order to have a good quality pregnancy. First and foremost, diet and exercise need to be implemented into the daily lives of the pregnant individuals. For pregnant women without a pre-existing medical condition can easily avoid gestational diabetes as long as they maintain a healthy lifestyle. Research shows that “expectant women can help control gestational diabetes by eating healthy foods, exercising and, if necessary, taking medication. Controlling blood sugar can prevent a difficult birth and keep you and your baby healthy”. During the pregnancy, several mothers will experience the negative effects of a hormone imbalance. Remaining rested and healthy is the best defense against the negative elements of this natural and beautiful process. Furthermore, pregnant women need to be aware of their regular blood sugar levels. In fact, “most health care providers suggest that pregnant women undergo a blood sugar screening test between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy as high blood sugar levels indicate a higher risk of developing gestational diabetes. An additional test is also needed to diagnose the condition”. If these tests appear to be positive, then it is up to the mother of the child to keep herself and her baby healthy.

Gestational diabetes may appear as non-threatening or irrelevant , yet it is still a form of diabetes none the less. Past studies have found that there are health risks associated with gestational diabetes, even after the child has been born. In fact, “babies born to mothers with gestational diabetes also tend to have high birth weights, as well as also being at an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and obesity later in life”. In most cases, diabetes is a health condition that remains with a person for a majority of their life. Putting a child at risk for diabetes is a risk that most mothers are not willing to take. Discovering gestational diabetes can be difficult and managing it can be even more challenging. Research shows that “there are often no symptoms in the mother, and blood sugar levels return to normal after the baby is born, the condition does put women at an increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes later on”. Pregnant women are usually concerned with what is best for the baby, as well as their own well-being. That is why it is important for expecting mothers to get their blood checked.

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