Dextrose & Pregnancy

Dextrose is another name for glucose, which is a sugar that's ubiquitous in nature and in the human body. Your body uses glucose or dextrose as an important source of cellular energy, meaning that it's a key nutrient that helps you maintain health. However, it's possible to eat too much dextrose, which can lead to pregnancy complications.


The dextrose molecule is a monosaccharide, meaning it consists of a single sugar unit, explain Drs. Reginald Garrett and Charles Grisham in their book "Biochemistry." The molecule has the chemical formula C6H12O6 and is common in nature both on its own and chemically combined with other monosaccharides to form larger sugars and starch molecules. While chemists tend to call the sugar by its alternate name, glucose, you'll more frequently see it referred to as dextrose on nutrition labels.

Absorption and Cellular Use

sugar bowl with a wooden spoon

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During pregnancy, just as when you're not pregnant, when you consume dextrose your digestive tract absorbs it into the bloodstream without needing to digest it first. Once in the blood, dextrose becomes a source of energy for the cells, which pull it out of the bloodstream as they require. Your cells chemically burn dextrose in the presence of oxygen, a process that generates ATP, or adenosine triphosphate. ATP is a sort of "chemical currency" that cells then use to fuel various processes.


If you consume more dextrose than your cells need at a given time, they can convert it into one of two storage forms. Glycogen is a carbohydrate that the liver and muscles make from dextrose, explains Dr. Lauralee Sherwood in her book "Human Physiology." Alternately, you can convert excess dextrose into triglycerides, which are fat molecules. You then store these in adipose tissue, and they become a source of energy for later periods of fasting.


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Dextrose is perfectly safe to consume during pregnancy, provided you don't overconsume it. If you overeat dextrose when you're pregnant, you can gain body fat, just as you would if you weren't pregnant. Drs. Michael Roizen and Mehmet Oz note in their book "You: Having A Baby" that it's best to gain about 25 to 35 lbs. during pregnancy; excess dextrose consumption easily can put you over the recommended amount, and predisposes you to gestation diabetes and other complications.