Pregnancy, Gestational Diabetes, and COVID-19

First things first: Gestational diabetes, which occurs in about 18 percent of pregnancies, is a condition marked by high blood sugar during pregnancy (it’s usually tested for around 26 weeks), although there are often no specific or obvious symptoms. The elevated levels are caused by hormones released by the placenta in pregnancy. This condition can sometimes — but not always — cause delivery issues, health problems for your baby, or type 2 diabetes in the mother, unless the mother already has diabetes going into pregnancy.

There are core differences between diabetes and gestational diabetes, though. “Gestational diabetes is not like chronic diabetes,” according to Daniel Roshan, MD, assistant professor, NYU School of Medicine, and director, ROSH Maternal-Fetal Medicine, “as these patients only get diabetes during pregnancy and often recover post-pregnancy, so there isn’t any underlying vascular, heart, or renal issues.”

So how does COVID-19 come into play? According to Sherry Ross, MD, OBGYN, pregnant women are not necessarily more likely to get Coronavirus, but being pregnant in general means your immune system is more compromised. Having gestational diabetes adds yet another layer to the matter, Ross explains, although gestational diabetes presents a generally lower risk than having diabetes coming into pregnancy.

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