Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy. It is caused by hormones from the placenta that make it more difficult for the body to use insulin to regulate blood sugar levels.

Women who have gestational diabetes typically have higher than normal blood sugar levels, which can cause problems for both mother and child.

Symptoms include excessive thirst, frequent urination and fatigue.

Gestational diabetes can be managed with medication, diet and exercise.

If left untreated, it can lead to serious health complications for both mother and baby, such as preeclampsia, premature labour and fetal macrosomia (high birth weight).

If you are pregnant and have any of the symptoms of gestational diabetes, it is important to get tested and discuss treatment options with your doctor.

For more on diabetes mellitus in general, click here.

Complications for The Baby Due to Gestational Diabetes


For the baby, gestational diabetes can lead to macrosomia, which is a condition where the baby is larger than normal. This can cause complications during labour and delivery and increase the risk of a C-section.

The baby may also be at increased risk of developing breathing problems or jaundice.

Chemical Imbalances

The baby is also prone to several chemical imbalances, such as low serum magnesium and low serum calcium levels.

Risk of Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes

In addition, babies born to mothers with gestational diabetes are at higher risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes later in life.

It is important for mothers with gestational diabetes to be monitored closely throughout their pregnancy, and for their babies to receive all necessary follow-up care after birth.

What are The Symptoms?

Gestational diabetes doesn’t cause any noticeable symptoms, and if at all, they are more likely to be mild.

However, some people may experience symptoms such as:

  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea

Causes and Risk Factors

Gestational diabetes is a condition that affects pregnant women and can have serious health risks for both the mother and the baby. It is caused by a combination of factors, including genetics, age, lifestyle and medical history.

Here are some of the most common causes of the condition:

Genetics: Women who have a family history of diabetes are more likely to develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy.

Age: Women over the age of 25 are at higher risk for developing gestational diabetes.

Lifestyle: Women who are overweight or sedentary are more likely to develop gestational diabetes.

Medical History: Women who have had gestational diabetes in previous pregnancies. Also, women who have prediabetes. And, women who have had other medical conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), are at increased risk for developing the condition.

It is important to talk to your doctor if you think you are at risk for developing gestational diabetes. This will help you take steps to reduce your risk and ensure a healthy pregnancy for you.

When to Get Tested?

The best time to test for gestational diabetes depends on the mother’s risk level.

For those with a low risk of developing the condition, the screening should take place at 24-28 weeks gestation.

For those with higher risk factors, such as having a body mass index (BMI) over 30, being over the age of 25 or having a family history of diabetes, screening should take place earlier, at 16-20 weeks gestation.

If gestational diabetes is detected, it can usually be managed with diet and exercise, but medications may be needed in some cases.

How Gestational Diabetes is Diagnosis?

The diagnosis of gestational diabetes is based on the results of a glucose tolerance test, which measures the body’s ability to process glucose.

To diagnose gestational diabetes, the following criteria must be met:

  • A fasting blood glucose level of 92 mg/dL or higher
  • 1 hour post-glucose challenge test result of 180 mg/dL or higher
  • 2 hour post-glucose challenge test result of 153 mg/dL or higher
  • An oral glucose tolerance test result of 140 mg/dL or higher

If any of the above criteria are met, gestational diabetes will be diagnosed.

It is important to note that gestational diabetes can develop at any point during pregnancy, so regular testing is recommended.

Treatment and Management

You can manage your gestational diabetes through a curated and balanced diet plan, aided by proper exercise.

The following are the ways in which you can manage your condition.

  • Eating a healthy diet and avoiding foods high in sugar and carbohydrates.
  • Getting regular exercise.
  • Taking oral medications or insulin injections to help keep your blood sugar levels under control. But mostly you can manage your blood sugar levels through diet and proper exercise.
  • Monitoring blood sugar levels regularly and keeping a record of the results.
  • Taking folic acid supplements during pregnancy to reduce the risk of gestational diabetes.
  • Getting regular checkups with your obstetrician or diabetes specialist.

With careful management, gestational diabetes can be treated successfully, and the mother and baby can have a healthy pregnancy and delivery respectively.

Can Gestational Diabetes be Prevented?

While it can’t be entirely prevented, there are some steps you can take to reduce your chances of developing it.

One of the most important things you can do is maintain a healthy diet and exercise regularly.

Eating a balanced diet, limiting added sugars and getting at least 30 minutes of exercise a day can help keep your blood sugar levels in check and reduce your risk.

It’s important to monitor your weight during pregnancy. Being overweight or obese increases the risk of gestational diabetes, so eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly can help you keep your weight in check.

Also, if you have a family history of diabetes or other risk factors, you should talk to your doctor about having regular blood sugar tests throughout your pregnancy.


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Sources: Johns Hopkins, Mayo Clinic (1, 2), CDC, American Diabetes Association (1, 2), Cleveland Clinic, Healthline, NIH, BabyCenter.