Gestational Diabetes

Diabetes occurs when there is a higher level of glucose in the blood than is normal. Glucose comes from the breakdown of the food you eat. It travels through your body in the blood. A hormone called insulin then helps glucose move from your blood to your cells. Once glucose is in your cells, it can be used for energy. A problem making or using insulin means glucose cannot move into your cells. Instead, the glucose builds up in your blood. The build-up is called hyperglycemia. Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that first occurs during pregnancy. The extra glucose can affect the mother and the baby.

  • Causes

    The exact cause is unknown.

  • Definition

    Diabetes occurs when there is a higher level of glucose in the blood than is normal. Glucose comes from the breakdown of the food you eat. It travels through your body in the blood. A hormone called insulin then helps glucose move from your blood to your cells. Once glucose is in your cells, it can be used for energy. A problem making or using insulin means glucose cannot move into your cells. Instead, the glucose builds up in your blood. The build-up is called hyperglycemia.

    Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that first occurs during pregnancy. The extra glucose can affect the mother and the baby.

    Large Baby Due to Gestational Diabetes
    IMAGE
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

  • Diagnosis

    As part of prenatal screening, your doctor will test you for gestational diabetes. If you don't have a history of diabetes, the test will be done at 24-28 weeks of gestation. The doctor will give you a drink that has a special glucose solution in it. The doctor will then measure the level of glucose in your blood. Other tests may be used that require fasting (not eating or drinking anything). If you are high risk for gestational diabetes or have symptoms, your doctor will test you earlier in the pregnancy.

  • Prevention

    The following may help prevent gestational diabetes:

    • Do not gain more weight than recommended during pregnancy.
    • Eat a healthy diet.
    • Exercise regularly. Talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program.
    • Talk to your doctor about whether you should take probiotics to reduce your risk of gestational diabetes.

  • Risk Factors

    Factors that may increase the risk of gestational diabetes include:

    • Obesity
      or being overweight—This can affect the body's ability to use insulin.
    • Gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy
    • Multiple pregnancy (carrying two or more babies)

    • Family history of
      diabetes
    • Previous delivery of a large baby
    • Age: 25 or older
    • Sleep-disordered breathing—abnormal breathing during sleep ranging from snoring to sleep apnea
    • History of polycystic ovary syndrome
    • Race: Hispanic, African-American, Native-American, Asian-American, Indigenous Australian, or a Pacific Islanders
    • Previous stillbirth or too much fluid surrounding a baby during pregnancy

    Also, hormones that help the baby's growth may interfere with insulin.

  • Symptoms

    This condition may not cause any symptoms. If symptoms do occur, they may include:

    • Increased urination
    • Thirst
    • Hunger
    • Weakness

    • Vaginal or
      urinary tract infections

  • Treatment

    The goal of treatment is to return blood glucose levels to normal. Treatment may include: