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Doctor's personal experience enables her to help patients with gestational diabetes

November is American Diabetes Month and for one St. Luke's physician, it is an opportunity to talk with a special group of patients about their health.

Dr. Susan Goltz, of St. Luke's Obstetrics and Gynecology Associates, can draw on personal experience when she talks with her pregnant patients who have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes.

"I have a really strong family history of diabetes, and I had gestational diabetes," she explains. "For me, it was kind of a kick in the pants."

The chance of a woman going on to develop type 2 diabetes after experiencing gestational diabetes during pregnancy can be as high as 50-75 percent if the woman is overweight, says Dr. Goltz. For women of appropriate weight, the chance is closer to 25 percent.

That higher risk, added to the desire to keep her unborn baby healthy, provides a double reason for a woman with gestational diabetes to seek her doctor's advice.

Exercise is one piece of the puzzle, says Dr. Goltz, who says it is important to find a form of exercise that the woman finds enjoyable. "We encourage people to be physically active, because that can help lower their blood sugar level, especially if they are active right after a meal."

She also refers patients to St. Luke's Clinical Nutrition department, where dietitians who are certified diabetes educators (CDEs) work with patients to create a meal and snack plan which keeps the gestational diabetes under control.

Clinical dietitian Brenda Anderson, who says the department can see up to 10 patients a week with a gestational diabetes diagnosis, emphasizes the importance of sticking to a healthy eating plan, both during and after the pregnancy.

She adds: "We encourage them that with the meal plan – which is basically carbohydrate counting – that they continue doing that to the best of their ability and to stay active and watch their weight, and that may help to avoid gestational diabetes returning in a later pregnancy and type 2 diabetes later in life."

Posted to website: November 21, 2012

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