Health. Gestational diabetes: here’s how to eat (good)

It is one of the most common ailments during pregnancy: gestational diabetes affects more and more pregnant women. In any case, that’s what confirms a large study published Thursday. British Medical Journal and from a compilation of 150 preliminary studies on more than seven million pregnant women.

If the prevalence of this disorder has been increasing around the world for several years, it is partly because overweight, which promotes diabetes, is increasingly common. But gestational diabetes, which is diagnosed when blood sugar is too high during pregnancy, is “significantly associated with complications.” It also increases the risk of both mother and child developing type 2 diabetes later in life if it usually goes away after birth.

Cesarean section, preterm birth and preeclampsia

In a study on an unprecedented scale, researchers led by Chinese researchers Fangkun Liu have shown for the first time that the risks associated with gestational diabetes are indeed linked to diabetes itself, not just the presence of excess weight, for example. Confirmed risks include not only the need for a cesarean section and preterm delivery, but also preeclampsia (a disorder that manifests in hypertension and can progress to dangerous convulsions) or an abnormally high weight for the newborn baby.

Some women require insulin therapy. The study mentions certain risks for the latter, including breathing difficulties in the baby at birth.

However, this study is also reassuring in terms of a particularly serious risk that still has not been adequately evaluated: the death of the child at birth. The authors note that there was no “clear difference” in women with gestational diabetes, as well as in the risk of miscarriage.

A balance that’s hard to find

Even if the risks remain numerous, this should not cause panic. Diabetes or not, it is out of the question for a pregnant woman to drastically reduce her diet. “Saying ‘I’m not eating ’cause it doesn’t go away’ is not a good long-term calculation,” says dietitian Hélène Louvet.

The risk of malnutrition is indeed high in a pregnant woman, which requires a difficult balance in managing diabetes: controlling blood sugar without hindering energy needs. Hence the importance of consulting a doctor and dietitian.

Except that caregivers lack their own criteria and actually use very different approaches: Should certain foods be banned? Splitting meals to smooth blood sugar?

This is what prompted French diabetologists to publish detailed recommendations a few weeks ago under the auspices of Hélène Louvet and her colleague Atefeh Nikpeyma. “Dietary recommendations were old and really short: there was really little,” says the dietitian.

These new rules, which clearly need to be adapted to each patient’s situation, are stamped with a realistic approach: Avoid disrupting the patient’s diet as much as possible. Therefore, even if it remains a possibility depending on the development of blood sugar, they do not recommend strictly prohibiting sweet foods, although it is logically necessary to limit them or automatically split meals.

In order to provide the patient with the most appropriate support and follow-up, it is necessary to take into account “specific pregnancy-related conditions, as well as various restrictions (eating habits, tastes, social, financial, professional and organizational situation, etc.). up. this sums it up.