Gestational Diabetes

Did you know that gestational diabetes occurs during 2-10% of all pregnancies?  As new ways of classifying and diagnosing gestational diabetes emerge that number could rise to as high as 18%. 

Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes where women who have no history of diabetes have above normal blood sugar levels during pregnancy due to increased hormones.  Most of the time, it disappears after the pregnancy is complete.  The following is how the American Diabetes Association describes gestational diabetes.
The placenta supports the baby as it grows. Hormones from the placenta help the baby develop. But these hormones also block the action of the mother’s insulin in her body. This problem is called insulin resistance. Insulin resistance makes it hard for the mother’s body to use insulin. She may need up to three times as much insulin.
“Gestational diabetes starts when your body is not able to make and use all the insulin it needs for pregnancy. Without enough insulin, glucose cannot leave the blood and be changed to energy. Glucose builds up in the blood to high levels. This is called hyperglycemia.”
There are quite a few risks with gestational diabetes.  One of the main ones is having a “fat” baby.  This can happen because the baby will develop high blood sugar, which causes the pancreas to make high amounts of insulin and that extra energy is stored as fat.  These children are at a higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes later in life.  Other complications while giving birth can arise for mom and baby when the baby is too large.
Of women who have gestational diabetes, 35-60 percent will develop type 2 diabetes later in life.  This could happen immediately after pregnancy or 20 years down the road.
One way to diagnose gestational diabetes is to do an oral glucose tolerance test.  This is when the mother drinks a solution containing a certain amount of glucose (usually 75g) and then has their blood sugar tested at certain intervals after it’s finished.  This test can be done at your doctor’s office and is usually done between weeks 24-28.

American Diabetes Association. (2013, July 2). What is gestational diabetes. Retrieved from
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WebMD. (2011, July 5). Oral glucose tolerance test. Retrieved from
Wikipedia. (2013, November 6). Gestational diabetes. Retrieved from