Kelly Osbourne, a daughter of Ozzy Osbourne and Sharon Osbourne, was recently diagnosed with gestational diabetes during her third trimester of pregnancy — and now she’s raising awareness that the illness can be diagnosed later in the course of a pregnancy.
“First of all, gestational diabetes is not your fault,” the 37-year-old TV personality said about the condition, in an interview with People.
“At first I thought it was something that I had done,” she added.
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“I only got diagnosed with it well into my third trimester, so it wasn’t like I developed it as some people get it from the get-go when they’re pregnant.”
Here’s a deeper dive into the medical issue.
What is gestational diabetes?
Gestational diabetes is a specific type of diabetes that develops during pregnancy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The condition affects approximately 10% of pregnant women in the U.S. every year, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA).
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It usually develops around the 24th week of pregnancy — so if women have higher blood sugars earlier in their pregnancy, this may suggest they have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes and not gestational diabetes, per the CDC.
Gestational diabetes usually disappears after the woman gives birth, but not always.
How does gestational diabetes start?
The pancreas produces a hormone called insulin “that acts like a key to let blood sugar into the cells in your body for use as energy,” the CDC noted on its website.
During pregnancy, however, sometimes the insulin doesn’t work as well as it should.
That leads the body to require more need for the hormone in a condition called insulin resistance.
The condition can also be caused by the body’s inability to produce enough insulin during the pregnancy.
“All pregnant women have some insulin resistance during late pregnancy,” the CDC noted.
But there is a subset of women who have insulin resistance before pregnancy.
These women start the pregnancy with an increased need for insulin — so this predisposes them to have gestational diabetes, per the CDC.
The condition can also be caused by the body’s inability to produce enough insulin during the pregnancy, the ADA added.
When there is not enough insulin, the body’s blood sugar stays in the bloodstream, eventually building up in the blood in a condition called hyperglycemia.
What are the symptoms?
The typical symptoms of diabetes are frequent urination — especially at night — plus drinking a lot of water, feeling thirsty and experiencing numbness in the hands or feet, according to the CDC.
Osbourne complained of rapid weight gain, unusual fatigue and ankle swelling, according to People.
But gestational diabetes typically doesn’t have any symptoms.
All women should be screened for the condition during the pregnancy, often during their 24th to 28th week of pregnancy, but sometimes earlier if mothers have more risk factors for the condition, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).
What is a glucose screening test?
The first screening for gestational diabetes may involve a glucose screening test, which measures the blood sugar in real time. The patient is then directed to drink a liquid that contains glucose — and re-tested one hour later.
A normal blood sugar result is 140 mg/dL or lower; but if the level is higher than 140 mg/dL, another test known as a glucose tolerance test is indicated, according to the CDC.
What is a glucose tolerance test?
A glucose tolerance test is when the patient first gets a fasting blood sugar reading — so the patient is directed to fast the night before the test.
The patient then drinks a liquid the following morning and has her blood sugar measured at one, two and sometimes three hours afterward.
The results depend on the size of the glucose drink and how often the blood sugar is tested.
“About 50% of women with gestational diabetes go on to develop Type 2 diabetes, but there are steps you can take to prevent it,” the CDC said.
How is the baby affected?
Gestational diabetes affects the mother after the baby’s body is formed, so it does not cause the birth defects that are sometimes seen in mothers who have diabetes prior to pregnancy, according to the ADA.
But the baby can still be affected by the increase in sugar level in the mother.
Although insulin does not cross the placenta, glucose still does, which in turn causes high sugars in the baby.
The baby’s pancreas responds by working “overtime” to produce more insulin to decrease the high glucose levels, per the ADA.
The extra sugar levels may cause the baby to have more energy than needed, so the baby’s body may respond by storing the extra energy as fat, in a condition known as macrosomia, or “fat” baby.
How do you treat gestational diabetes?
Women will need more frequent prenatal care visits and track their blood’s status more often, according to ACOG.
For many, a healthier diet and regular exercise will help get blood sugars under control — but some women may also need medication to reach a normal blood sugar, ACOG added.
Osbourne worked on decreasing the amount of sugar in her diet and watching her carbohydrate intake, according to People.
She also told the news outlet that she doesn’t have to wear compression socks anymore after cutting the sugar out of her diet.
Too much sugar is bad for us
Osbourne is teaming up with No Sugar Company, set to launch a new international holiday called “No Sugar Day” on Oct. 3.
The average adult consumes two to three times of daily recommended sugar intake, while the average child consumes eight times the recommended amount, according to the company’s website.
“The health effects of refined sugar can be long-lasting and damaging,” the website added.
“However, that hasn’t stopped the food industry from filling their products with refined sugar,” the company said.
“Together we can raise awareness of North America’s refined sugar problem. It’s time to get loud. It’s time to make a change.”