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Understanding gestational diabetes

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Diabetes may develop during pregnancy and affect the mother’s and baby’s health.

Gestational diabetes results when:

  • The mother’s ability to use sugar (glucose) properly in her body is hampered by insulin resistance from hormones made by the placenta
  • ​The pancreas cannot make additional insulin

Any woman can develop diabetes during pregnancy, although typically, this type of diabetes resolves after pregnancy.

Risk factors for gestational diabetes include:

  • Obesity
  • Family history of gestational diabetes

Good control of gestational diabetes is essential. If not controlled, high sugar levels in the mother can lead to:

  • A larger than average baby
  • Increased risk for cesarean section
  • Increased risk for birth trauma
  • The infant having a severe drop in blood sugar after delivery
  • The infant developing hypoglycemia (Intravenous (IV) therapy with close monitoring of blood sugar levels may be necessary)
  • Increased risk of maternal high blood pressure

Diet, exercise, and sometimes insulin or other medications may be necessary to ensure consistently normal sugar levels.

Your obstetrician may refer you to a diabetes education to monitor your progress and avoid serious problems during pregnancy.