Gestational Diabetes: Facts you Must Know

Gestational diabetes
Gestational diabetes poses serious risks to the baby as well as the mother. The Indian government mandates diabetes screening for all mothers. Read to learn about gestational diabetes, its causes, risk factors, treatment, and more.

What is gestational diabetes?

Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is a condition in which a pregnant mother who did not have diabetes previously is diagnosed with diabetes. For many of these women, diabetes will resolve after the delivery; however, there is a high risk of developing diabetes later in life.

What are the causes of gestational diabetes?

Normally, pregnant women experience some level of insulin resistance due to the hormones released during pregnancy. However, among some women who already have insulin resistance, this gets further amplified, resulting in diabetes during pregnancy.

What are the risk factors for gestational diabetes?

  • Obesity
  • Physical inactivity
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
  • Prediabetes
  • An immediate family member with a positive history of type 2 diabetes
  • History of having delivered a baby weighing more than 4 kilograms
  • History of gestational diabetes during a previous pregnancy
  • Age : The prevalence of high blood glucose (hyperglycaemia) during pregnancy increases rapidly with age and is highest in women over the age of 45 years
Gestational Diabetes

What are the symptoms of gestational diabetes?

Often, gestational diabetes presents without any symptoms, and the only noticeable symptoms include increased thirst and excess urination.

How do I prevent gestational diabetes?

  • Eat a healthy diet that is low in sugar
  • Adopt a healthy lifestyle
  • Begin your pregnancy at a healthy weight
  • Maintain a healthy weight during pregnancy

How will gestational diabetes affect my pregnancy?

Complications to the baby 

  • High birth weight
  • Premature birth of the baby
  • Miscarriage and stillbirth
  • Increased probability of developing obesity and type 2 diabetes later on in life
  • Respiratory distress
  • Decreased blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia)

Complications to the mother 

  • High blood pressure during pregnancy (preeclampsia)
  • Difficulties in natural delivery, leading to an increased risk of caesarean deliveries
  • Risk of developing diabetes in the future : Approximately half the women with a history of GDM go on to develop type 2 diabetes within five to ten years after delivery

What are the tests for gestational diabetes?

The test for gestational diabetes is usually done after 24 weeks of pregnancy. The routine tests done include:

  • Glucose challenge test : You will drink 50 gm of glucose mixed with water. Your blood sugar levels will be measured after 1 hour. If your sugar levels are above 190 mg/dL, it indicates that you have gestational diabetes.It is considered normal if your sugar level is below 140 mg/dL. In cases of ambiguous values, your doctor recommends an oral glucose tolerance test
  • Oral glucose tolerance test :This is usually performed as a follow-up test. You will be required to fast overnight for at least 8 hours. Your blood sugar levels will be analysed while fasting, one, two, and three hours after you consume 100 gm of glucose mixed with water

What is the treatment for gestational diabetes?

  • Eat a healthy diet that is minimally processed, high in fibre, and consists of foods with a low glycemic index
  • Exercise regularly to maintain a healthy body weight. Ask your doctor what kind of exercises are suitable for stage of pregnancy and follow them strictly
  • Regularly monitoring  sugar levels is very important if you have gestational diabetes
  • Medicines and insulin: Some women  require insulin injections to maintain normal blood sugar levels, which are safe during pregnancy. Sometimes tablets are also prescribed to lower blood sugar levels
Dr. Sosa

Dr. Sosa


An oral physician turned medical writer who writes profoundly about medicine and diseases. Read her contributions and writings about various healthcare topics.

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