is a form of diabetes that begins during pregnancy and usually resolves after the baby is born.
During pregnancy, placental hormones (growth hormone, prolactin, cortisol, placental lactogen, progesterone) are produced that can block the effectiveness of insulin, leading to a relative insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone that helps the body convert food into energy. Without insulin, glucose from the food you eat cannot enter cells, and glucose builds up in the blood.
In most women, the pancreas increases insulin production enough to offset this resistance. When the pancreas fails to keep pace, gestational diabetes occurs. In addition to causing problems for the mother, the excess glucose in the blood can cross the placenta and cause problems for the baby.
Complications for women with gestational diabetes mellitus include an increased chance of: Cesarean deliveryHigh blood pressureMetabolic syndromeType 2 diabetes
Complications affecting the fetus or infant include: Macrosomia
(abnormally large baby) and problems during delivery, such as
shoulder dystociaRespiratory distress syndrome
Other conditions, such as, low blood glucose levels, low calcium levels, high bilirubin levelsIncreased rate of stillbirth
Children whose mothers had gestational diabetes are at higher risk for developing
type 2 diabetes
If you have gestational diabetes, maintaining good control over your glucose levels during pregnancy significantly reduces the risk of complications to you and to your baby.
Gestational diabetes. National Instutute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at:
https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/types/gestational. Updated August 2013. Accessed October 7, 2015.
Hillier TA, Pedula KL, et al. Excess gestational weight gain: modifying fetal macrosomia risk associated with maternal glucose.
Last reviewed September 2016 by Michael Woods, MD
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