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Checking Diabetes Risk

Q. I've just been diagnosed with gestational diabetes. What are the chances that my baby will develop diabetes as a child or as an adult? A. Because of your condition, especially if it's not well-controlled, there is a greater chance that your baby will be born larger than usual, jaundiced, or with low blood-sugar levels. But most experts agree that your high blood sugar by itself does not increase your baby's risk of diabetes later in life, says Christopher Saudek, M.D.,vice president of the American Diabetes Association.

However, if you have gestational diabetes (which usually disappears after delivery), you have a higher risk of developing chronic diabetes later on. Why? Genetics. You may have been born with a weak pancreas. And if that's the case, you may have passed those same weak pancreas genes onto your baby. In fact, 10 to 15 percent of children who have a parent with adult-onset diabetes will be also be diagnosed one day. So what now? Most moms can control the condition with exercise and diet changes (think low fat, high fiber). Continuing these habits post-pregnancy and teaching them to Baby will help keep you both healthy.