Halal Consumer - Issue 28 - page 14

Samples of blood are taken after consumption of a sugary solu-
tion. If the results show a high blood sugar level, a diagnostic test
will be given to check glucose tolerance. This test measures the
amount of time it takes for sugar to leave the blood. A blood sugar
level that is too high can cause problems for mom and baby and,
therefore, needs to be properly controlled and monitored.
First time mom Ida Moretti of Oak Lawn, Illinois, was not
expecting to fail her glucose screening. The full-time pharma-
cist was regularly exercising throughout her pregnancy and
was not overweight prior to expecting. However, diabetes does
run in her family, so she was definitely at risk of
developing gestational diabetes. “I was very sur-
prised and disappointed when I found out
that my blood sugars were so high in my
pregnancy,” shares Moretti, the young-
est of seven siblings. “I wanted to get
my glucose levels regulated right
away for the sake of my baby, so I
got on medication and changed my
diet accordingly.”
Sometimes dietary changes and
exercise are enough to keep
blood sugar levels under control;
other times, as in Moretti’s case,
medication may be needed as well.
About 15 percent of women with
gestational diabetes need medication.
Most patients start with oral medication
instead of injections.
According to nutritionthatfits.com dietitian and diabetes educa-
tor Hannah El-Amin, feeling disappointed or blaming oneself
are common reactions amongst women who are diagnosed with
gestational diabetes. About a third of the patients she sees in
her Chicago practice come in with gestational diabetes. “These
women are very concerned about the well-being of their babies,
some even scared and confused about how they will manage
their health and eating with the diabetes,” says mom of two
El-Amin. “They feel like they have done something wrong, and
I reassure them it is not their fault. The reality is some people
have a genetic predisposition to it, but the thing is to put a posi-
tive spin on things. A majority of the time, gestational diabetes
goes away right after delivery, and it can be easily managed if
patient is well-informed and willing to make the necessary life-
style changes,” she concludes.
As expected, Moretti’s diabetes disappeared post delivery. She
gave birth to a healthy baby girl named Milayna who is 16
months old now and thriving.
“Most women who develop diabetes during pregnancy go on to
have healthy babies,” states Dr. Rima Makhiawala, who special-
izes in obstetrics and gynecology in Livingston County, Michigan.
“Yes, the effects of gestational diabetes can be issues like having
potentially larger babies, tougher deliveries, or a higher chance of
Cesarean delivery, but the sooner we know the patient has high
glucose levels, the sooner we can start helping her,” she says.
Like most prenatal care facilities, Dr. Makhiawala’s practice
requires all its expecting patients to be screened for ges-
tational diabetes. “In the past, only those pregnant
women who were considered being at high
risk for diabetes used to be screened,” tells
Dr. Makhiawala. “Women of Hispanic,
African American, Native American,
Asian Americans, and Pacific Islander
ethnicity, or overweight patients, or
those with diabetes in their family
and/or over the age of 25 were tested
more regularly for high blood sugars.
However,” she continues, “now we have
to test all our patients as part of their
prenatal care. Even the patient with no
apparent risk factors may end up being diag-
nosed with gestational diabetes.”
Once diagnosed, there is a usual protocol taken to help
patients manage their glucose levels. Some obstetricians may
refer these individuals to specialists in maternal fetal medicine.
Patients may also consult with registered dietitians to educate
them on diabetes and learn how to adjust their diets to regulate
their sugars. They will also receive training from their health-
care provider on how to keep diligent track of their glucose
levels using a home glucose monitor. Most insurance plans cover
treatment for gestational diabetes so women have adequate
access to information and resources.
“At a first-time consultation with me, I give the patient a very
detailed questionnaire about her diet and lifestyle including
what foods she eats and how much sleep she gets regularly,” says
El-Amin. “I also inquire about the level of stress she deals with
on a daily basis, because it all impacts diabetes. We talk about
carbohydrate counting and derive a customized meal plan based
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Spring 2014
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