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Pregnancy Complications

Gestational Diabetes

Understanding Gestational Diabetes:
A Practical Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy

Glossary

Carbohydrates
A type of food, usually from plants versus animals. Carbohydrates include simple carbohydrates (sugar, fruit) and complex carbohydrates (vegetables, starches). One of three nutrients that supply calories to the body. (See fat and protein.)

Diabetes mellitus
A disorder that prevents the body from converting digested food into the energy needed for daily activities.

Fat
One of three nutrients that supply calories to the body. Included are vegetable oil, lard, margarine, butter, shortening, mayonnaise, and salad dressing. (See carbohydrates and protein.)

Gestational diabetes
A form of diabetes which begins during pregnancy and usually disappears following delivery.

Glucose tolerance test
A blood test used to make the diagnosis of diabetes, including gestational diabetes. After drinking a liquid containing 100 grams of glucose, blood is drawn every hour for 3 hours. Two or more abnormally elevated blood sugar levels indicate gestational diabetes.

Health care providers
Health care professionals who specialize in the management of certain conditions. In the case of gestational diabetes, a registered dietician, a qualified nutritionist, a diabetes educator, and a neonatologist.

Hormone
A chemical substance produced within the body which has "regulatory" effect on the activity of a certain tissue in the body. E, cortisol, and human placenta lactogen are hormones produced by the placenta which cause changes in the mother's body to prepare her for the pregnancy and birth. These hormones also have a contra-insulin effect.

Hypoglycemia
A condition where the blood sugar is lower than normal. This is a dangerous condition and should be avoided or treated rapidly.

Insulin
A hormone manufactured by the pancreas. Insulin helps glucose leave the blood and enter the muscles and other tissues of the body.

Insulin-resistance
A partial blocking of the effect of insulin. This interference can be caused by hormones produced by the placenta or by excessive weight gain.

Ketone
A break down product of fat that accumulates in the blood as a result of inadequate insulin or inadequate calorie intake.

Legumes
Beans, peas and lentils which supply fiber and nutrients and are high in vegetable protein.

Macrosomia
A term meaning "large body." This refers to a baby that is considered larger than normal. This condition occurs when the mother's blood sugar levels have been higher than normal during the pregnancy. This is a preventable complication of gestational diabetes.

Nutrients
Proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals. These are provided by food and are necessary for growth and the maintenance of life.

Pancreas
A long gland that lies behind the stomach. The pancreas manufactures insulin and digestive enzymes.

Placenta
A special tissue that joins the mother and fetus. It provides hormones necessary for a successful pregnancy, and supplies the fetus with water and nutrients (food) from the mother's blood.

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Protein
A substance found in many parts of the body that helps the body to resist disease. Protein often, but not always, comes from animal products. high protein foods include meat, poultry, fish, eggs, hard cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt and milk. Non-animal sources of protein are nuts and seeds, peanut butter, legumes, whole gains and tofu. One of three nutrients that supply calories to the body. (See carbohydrates and fat.)

Recommended Dietary Allowance
Recommendations for daily intake of specific nutrients for groups of healthy individuals. There is a specific recommendation for pregnant and for lactating women. These recommendations are set by the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Research Council of the National Academy of Science.

Self (or home) blood glucose monitoring
A process by which blood sugars can be determined at home by pricking the finger, putting a drop of blood on a chemically treated test strip, and comparing the color changes to a chart.

Trimester
A period of 3 months. Pregnancy is divided into three trimesters. The first trimester is 0-13 weeks gestation. The second trimester is 14-26 weeks gestation. The third trimester is 27 weeks gestation until birth.

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