Gestational diabetes refers to diabetes diagnosed during pregnancy. The Center for Disease control estimates that up to 9.2% of pregnant women will develop gestational diabetes. Pregnancy hormones can interfere with the way insulin works in the mother’s body which can lead to elevated blood glucose levels during pregnancy. Women are typically screened for gestational diabetes at 24-28 weeks of pregnancy, however women who have risk factors may be screened earlier. Risk factors for developing gestational diabetes include having a family history of diabetes, being overweight, or over 25 years old. Women who are black, Hispanic, American Indian or Asian are more likely to develop gestational diabetes. Blood glucose control during pregnancy is critical as elevated maternal glucose levels can lead to pregnancy complications and poses risks to the health of the baby. Gestational diabetes is likely to recur during subsequent pregnancies.
Gestational diabetes requires specialized treatment for the rest of the pregnancy. After the pregnancy is over, most women will have normal blood sugars again; however, up to 20-50 % will develop type 2 diabetes within 10 years. Regular screening is recommended. The best prevention strategy is to eat healthy, control weight, and stay active.
For more information about gestational diabetes, visit the American Diabetes Association Gestational Diabetes Resource Guide or the California Diabetes and Pregnancy program.
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