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What is gestational diabetes?

Gestational diabetes means higher than normal blood glucose levels during pregnancy or simply, diabetes in pregnancy.

High blood glucose (blood sugar) is caused because the mother can’t produce enough insulin (a pregnant woman’s insulin needs are two to three times that of normal). The increased need for insulin may be because of placental hormones that make it harder for insulin to do its job, or because of the growth demands of the developing baby.

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What is HbA1c?

The HbA1c test is a measure of an average blood glucose (average blood sugar) level over the past few months and can be used as an indicator of your diabetes control. Inside the body the glucose (sugar) sticks to part of the red blood cells called haemoglobin – haemoglobin is what gives blood cells their red colour.

This sugar-haemoglobin combination is called HbA1c. Once the glucose becomes ‘stuck’ to the red blood cell it stays stuck until the red blood cell dies. This takes about three months. As red blood cells die, new ones are produced. If the new red blood cells don’t end up with glucose stuck to them, because of better blood glucose control, then the overall HbA1c will decrease.

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Understanding the diabetes language

If you have been recently diagnosed with diabetes the medical terms used to describe the condition may seem confusing and overwhelming.

Click on the link below to see a list of commonly used diabetes words and their meaning. This may help you better understand the information given to you and mean you can have more effective conversations with your health care professional.

Diabetes terms