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YOUR HEALTH: Longer impact of diabetes during pregnancy

Many people think there’s nothing to worry about after delivery, but that’s not always the case.

BATON ROGUE, Louisiana – A young mother is sharing her story to protect other moms with gestational diabetes.

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

But after delivery, Woman's Hospital Research Director Karen Elkind-Hirsch 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 gestational diabetes are still at higher risk of developing Type Two Diabetes and heart disease in the future.

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

Elkind-Hirsch explained that breastfeeding helps a woman's resistance to diabetes because it increases metabolism.

"It actually helps you lose weight and keep the diabetes in check," she explained. "The biggest problem is for a lot of women with gestational diabetes, they have a very hard time having their milk come in. We don't understand why."

Poole took part in two of Elkind-Hirsch's studies.

Her treatments involved pre-diabetic medications and changes to her diet and lifestyle.

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

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

"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.

If this story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Jim Mertens at jim.mertens@wqad.com or Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at mthomas@ivanhoe.com.