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Gestational Diabetes

During pregnancy, usually around 24 weeks, many women can develop gestational diabetes (GDM). Diabetes is a complication for 7 – 14% of pregnancies. Pregnant women who have never had diabetes before but have high blood sugar levels during pregnancy are said to have gestational diabetes. Being diagnosed with gestational diabetes does not mean you have diabetes before conceiving or will have diabetes after giving birth.

For most women, blood sugar levels will return to normal after giving birth. Women with GDM often have no symptoms, which is why it is important for women to be tested at the right time during pregnancy. Women who have had GDM will need to be tested after pregnancy since there is a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the future.

CAUSES OF GESTATIONAL DIABETES

The cause of gestational diabetes is unknown, but we have some clues. The placenta supports the baby as it grows. Hormones from the placenta help the baby to develop. But, these hormones also block the action of the mother’s insulin in her body, which is known as insulin resistance. Insulin resistance makes it difficult for the mother’s body to use insulin and may need up to three times as much insulin.

Gestational diabetes starts when the body is not able to produce and use the insulin it needs for pregnancy. With less insulin available, glucose cannot leave the blood to be changed into energy. Glucose builds up in the blood and causes high levels of blood glucose, which is called hyperglycemia.

COMPLICATIONS OF GESTATIONAL DIABETES

Complications in women with GDM may include:

  • Larger than average newborn
  • Increased risk of infant death
  • Increased risk of newborn admission to Neonatal Intensive Care for control of blood sugar
  • Potential birth defects

SWEET SUCCESS PROGRAM AT PVHMC


Our goal is to improve outcomes for high-risk pregnant women who have diabetes or who have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes. We also help women with nutrition education and guidance throughout their pregnancy.

For more information, please click here.