The goal of treatment is to reduce the risks of GDM for mother and child. Scientific evidence is beginning to show that controlling glucose levels can result in less serious fetal complications (such as macrosomia) and increased maternal quality of life.
Unfortunately, treatment of GDM is also accompanied by more infants admitted to neonatal wards and more inductions of labour, with no proven decrease in cesarean section rates or perinatal mortality.
These findings are still recent and controversial.
A repeat OGTT should be carried out 2–4 months after delivery, to confirm the diabetes has disappeared. Afterwards, regular screening for type 2 diabetes is advised. Most women can manage their GDM with dietary changes and exercise.
Self monitoring of blood glucose levels can guide therapy. Some women will need antidiabetic drugs, most commonly insulin therapy.
Any diet needs to provide sufficient calories for pregnancy, typically 2,000 - 2,500 kcal with the exclusion of simple carbohydrates.
Self monitoring can be accomplished using a handheld capillary glucose dosage system. Compliance with these glucometer systems can be low.
If monitoring reveals failing control of glucose levels with these measures, or if there is evidence of complications like excessive fetal growth, treatment with insulin might become necessary.
The most common therapeutic regime involves premeal fast-acting insulin to blunt sharp glucose rises after meals.
There is some evidence that certain oral glycemic agents might be safe in pregnancy, or at least, are significantly less dangerous to the developing fetus than poorly controlled diabetes.
Glyburide, a second generation sulfonylurea, has been shown to be an effective alternative to insulin therapy.
In one study, 4% of women needed supplemental insulin to reach blood sugar targets.
A recent randomized controlled trial of metformin versus insulin showed that women preferred metformin tablets to insulin injections, and that metformin is safe and equally effective as insulin. Severe neonatal hypoglycemia was less common in insulin-treated women, but preterm delivery was more common.
Almost half of patients did not reach sufficient control with metformin alone and needed supplemental therapy with insulin; compared to those treated with insulin alone, they required less insulin, and they gained less weight.
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Last Updated: Feb 1, 2011