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What Is Gestational Diabetes?

I'm not diabetic, but my doctor told me that I have gestational diabetes. What does that mean? And will it last beyond my pregnancy?
Pat

Gestational diabetes is a kind of diabetes that comes on during pregnancy. When a woman has it, her blood sugar levels are high. That makes the unborn baby's blood sugar levels higher too. Most pregnant women have a glucose screening for gestational diabetes at 24–28 weeks.

A big worry about gestational diabetes is how it affects the baby. Babies born to mothers who have gestational diabetes are more likely to:

  • be born early (prematurely), which can lead to health problems and needing breathing support
  • grow very large, which can make delivery harder and C-section more likely
  • have low blood sugar just after they're born

These and other kinds of problems from gestational diabetes can make babies need to stay in the hospital longer for extra treatment.

Babies born to moms with gestational diabetes are also more likely to develop type 2 diabetes later in life. 

If you have gestational diabetes, your doctor will probably start you on a treatment plan. Most women can get their blood sugar levels under control with a healthy food plan and daily exercise. Some women also need to take daily insulin shots and test their blood sugar until they give birth.

Gestational diabetes usually goes away after a baby is born. A mom may get it again in future pregnancies, though. Many women who have gestational diabetes will go on to develop type 2 diabetes later. You can lower that risk by keeping a healthy weight after delivering your baby. Talk to your doctor about how to improve your health and monitor for type 2 diabetes after your baby is born.

Reviewed by: Thinh Phu Nguyen, MD
Date Reviewed: 20-07-2022

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