I'm not diabetic, but my doctor told me that I have gestational
diabetes. What does that mean? And will it last beyond my
Gestational diabetes is a kind of diabetes that comes on during
pregnancy and goes away after labor and delivery. It affects about
4% of all pregnant women, according to the American Diabetes
Association. Gestational diabetes is often diagnosed on screening
tests done between weeks 24 and 28 of pregnancy.
While doctors aren't sure what causes gestational diabetes,
it is believed that hormones from the placenta may block the action
of insulin in the mother. This means that the mother needs more
insulin, and sometimes, her pancreas cannot make enough to
transport the sugar in the blood into the cells for energy. The
mother's blood has high levels of glucose, and that extra
glucose can cross the placenta, giving the growing baby a high
blood sugar level.
In response, the baby's pancreas starts making extra insulin
to transport the sugar into the cells to be used for energy. When
the pancreas can't keep up, the extra blood sugar is stored as
fat on the baby, and that can lead to health problems for the
unborn baby. Infants of diabetic mothers are at risk for abnormal
growth, premature delivery, and breathing problems, among other
If your doctor diagnoses you with gestational diabetes, it's
likely that you'll be started on a treatment plan aimed at
getting glucose levels under control. This includes a plan to
manage your nutrition, physical activity, and weight gain.
While most diabetes diagnosed during pregnancy resolves after
delivery, some women will have gestational diabetes during future
pregnancies as well. And some who are diagnosed while pregnant may
actually have been diabetic before the pregnancy. In these cases,
the diabetes does not disappear after delivery.
For more information, check out these articles:
Medical Care During Pregnancy
Staying Healthy During Pregnancy
Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date reviewed: March 2007
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