Pregnant women beware: sugary colas and gestational diabetes

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It’s something every woman who is trying to get pregnant should know. The chances of developing a condition that can affect both the mom-to-be and the baby can be dramatically reduced by just giving up the cola habit.
  
“I developed it during my second pregnancy, very early on right around five weeks,” Valley mom Star Zbikowski says.

Zbikowski has gestational diabetes. It occurs during pregnancy and causes high blood sugar levels, which can be harmful to you and the baby if not taken care of.

“A lot of people think it's no big deal, but really it's not just you, or a big baby, they can actually have birth defects,” Zibowski continues.

“Most of the time the ones we check early are those that have a history and gives them a higher risk,” Dr. John Martin says.

Martin is with the Women’s Center at Banner Good Samaritan Medial Center. He says moms at greater risk include ones who are older, obese and have a family history of diabetes. “They're sent to a nutritionist or dietitian because you can control most of these
[cases] with diet and exercise while pregnant,” Martin says.
 
“It’s not fun, “ Zbikowski says “It can actually be pretty scary because you're worrying constantly if I’m eating something that's wrong, is my blood sugar to high?”

 While diet, exercise and medication is key to helping control this condition, another risk moms need to be aware of is soda.

A new study from Louisiana State University found that women who drank as many as five regular colas a week before they get pregnant increase the chance of developing gestational diabetes by 22 percent.
 
“We know that the colas, the sugar-sweetened colas, can be, especially in this country where colas are addictive, that can be a huge source of this glucose load to this patient,” Martin says.

When it comes to other sugar-sweetened beverages or diet drinks, researchers could find no link.
 
“What we're going to do is find out if they're cola drinkers,” Martin says. “I then tell them to moderate it and, with everything in pregnancy ,we don't necessarily have to stop everything - just moderation, “Martin continues.

“It surprised me,” Zbikowski says. “If I had known that before I got pregnant the first time, I would have stopped drinking cola.” 

She says she used to drink a six-pack of cola every day. Now on her third child, Zbikowski is doing what she can to keep her and the baby healthy and hopefully get the gestational diabetes under control.
 
“I'm praying once I have the baby that it does go away,” Zbikowski says. The doctor says most of the time the condition will go away, which is why it is so important to follow up with your physician once the baby is born.