Gestational Diabetes

What Causes Gestational Diabetes?

Changing hormones and weight gain are part of a healthy pregnancy, but both changes make it hard for your body to keep up with its need for a hormone called insulin. When that happens, your body doesn't get the energy it needs from the food you eat. This can result in gestational diabetes.

Risk Factors for Gestational Diabetes

Risk factors for gestational diabetes include:
  • Having a parent, brother, or sister with diabetes.
  • Being of African American, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic American, or Pacific Islander descent.
  • Being 25 years old or older.
  • Being overweight.
  • Having had gestational diabetes before, or given birth to at least one baby weighing more than 9 pounds.
  • Having a history of pre-diabetes, a condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not yet high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes. Other names for it are "impaired glucose tolerance" and "impaired fasting glucose."
You are at high risk for the condition if you:
  • Are very overweight
  • Have had gestational diabetes before
  • Have a strong family history of diabetes
  • Have glucose in your urine.
You are at average risk for gestational diabetes if you have one or more of the risk factors.
You are at low risk for gestational diabetes if you don't have any of the risk factors.

Screening for Gestational Diabetes

Your doctor will decide when you need to be checked for gestational diabetes, depending on your risk factors.
If you are at high risk for gestational diabetes, your blood glucose level may be checked at your first prenatal visit. If your test results are normal, you will be checked again some time between weeks 24 and 28 of your pregnancy.
If you have an average risk, you will be tested some time between weeks 24 and 28 of your pregnancy.
If you are at low risk for gestational diabetes, your doctor may decide that you do not need to be checked.
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Information About Gestational Diabetes

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