Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that develops when a woman is pregnant. This type of diabetes is caused by a change in the way a woman’s body responds to the hormone insulin during her pregnancy. This change results in elevated levels of blood sugar, also known as blood glucose.
Gestational diabetes affects an estimated 18 percent of women during pregnancy.
The risk factors commonly associated with an increased chance of developing gestational diabetes include:
- Having a history of gestational diabetes in previous pregnancies.
- Being overweight or obese.
- Being older than 25 years.
- Having a family history of diabetes (especially if a parent or sibling has diabetes).
- If you previously delivered a baby weighing more than 9 pounds.
- Being African-American, Hispanic, Native American or Asian.
- Having prediabetes, also known as impaired glucose tolerance.
It is important to diagnose and treat gestational diabetes to avoid health complications for you and your baby.
If you are at high risk for developing gestational diabetes, your blood glucose levels will likely be checked at your first prenatal visit. If your blood glucose results are normal, your levels will be checked again between the 24th and 28th weeks of your pregnancy.
If you are not high risk your doctor should screen you anyway between the 24th and 28th weeks of pregnancy.