Gestational Diabetes

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Definition & Facts

Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that occurs only during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes can cause health problems in both mother and baby. Managing your diabetes can help protect you and your baby.

Symptoms & Causes

Gestational diabetes often has no symptoms, or they may be mild, such as being thirstier than normal or having to urinate more often. Gestational diabetes is sometimes related to the hormonal changes of pregnancy that make your body less able to use insulin. Genes and extra weight may also play a role.

Tests & Diagnosis

Your doctor will test you for gestational diabetes between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy. Tests include the glucose challenge test and the oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT). If the results of the glucose challenge test show high blood glucose, you will return for an OGTT test to confirm the diagnosis of gestational diabetes.

Management & Treatment

Managing gestational diabetes includes following a healthy eating plan and being physically active. If your eating plan and physical activity aren’t enough to keep your blood glucose in your target range, you may need insulin.

Prevention

You can lower your chance of getting gestational diabetes by losing extra weight before you get pregnant if you are overweight. Being physically active before and during pregnancy also may help prevent gestational diabetes.

After Your Baby is Born

If you had gestational diabetes, you are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. Your child is more likely to become obese or develop type 2 diabetes. You may be able to lower your and your child’s chances of developing these problems by reaching a healthy weight, making healthy food choices, and being physically active.

Related Conditions & Diseases

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Related Research

See more about diabetes research at NIDDK.

This content is provided as a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health. The NIDDK translates and disseminates research findings through its clearinghouses and education programs to increase knowledge and understanding about health and disease among patients, health professionals, and the public. Content produced by the NIDDK is carefully reviewed by NIDDK scientists and other experts.

The NIDDK would like to thank:
Boyd Metzger, M.D., Northwestern University.