Health Watch: Gestational Diabetes

A young mother is sharing her story to protect other moms with gestational diabetes. It's a type of diabetes that is first diagnosed during pregnancy. It can affect both the mother and the baby's health. Previously many people thought there was nothing to worry about after delivery, but that's not the case.

Ericka Poole was diagnosed with gestational diabetes during both her pregnancies.

Poole said, "They're my little knights in shining armor."

But after delivery, Karen Elkind-Hirsch, Ph.D., Woman's Hospital Research Director at the Woman's Hospital in Baton Rouge explained that Poole's journey wasn't over. Elkind-Hirsch has spent years researching gestational diabetes. Her research provided further proof that many women who had it are still at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease in the future.

Elkind-Hirsch said, "While gestational diabetes goes away after you deliver, your risk for type 2 diabetes does not go away. Think of this as a warning."

Poole took part in two of Elkind-Hirsch's studies. Her treatments involved prediabetic medications and changes to her diet and lifestyle.

"If we treat the prediabetic we're going to be so much more successful than if we wait until they become diabetic," said Elkind-Hirsch.

In time, Poole's bloodwork improved. Now she wants to let other moms know that prevention is possible.

Poole said, "This is incredibly important information. If we want to tackle heart disease and we want to tackle these things that are taking mothers from their children, then we want to start here."

Elkind-Hirsch recommends that anyone who has been diagnosed with gestational diabetes get bloodwork done after delivery and continue to be monitored by their doctor for diabetes and heart disease.

Contributors to this news report include: Breanna Molloy, Field Producer; Wladimir Moquete, Videographer; Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.
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