Pregnancy Home > Am I at Risk for Gestational Diabetes?

Certain factors increase a woman's risk of gestational diabetes, such as a family history of diabetes, ethnicity, and other medical conditions. The good news is that some of the risk factors are controllable, and women who do develop gestational diabetes often go on to have healthy pregnancies and healthy babies. The key is to make smart food choices, exercise appropriately, and control the amount of weight you gain.

What Is Gestational Diabetes?

Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that can develop during pregnancy. This condition affects at least 7 percent and possibly up to 18 percent of all pregnancies in the United States each year, making it one of the top health concerns associated with pregnancy. If left untreated, gestational diabetes can cause potentially serious problems for both the mother and her baby.
Normally, the body breaks down your food into a type of sugar called glucose, which moves from the intestines into the blood. Your body also makes a type of hormone called insulin that moves the glucose out of the blood and into the cells of the body.
However, in some pregnant women (usually around the 24th week of pregnancy), the hormones from the placenta may block the action of the mother's insulin in her body. This is called insulin resistance, and it makes it difficult for the mother's body to use insulin. Because the body is resistant to insulin, glucose cannot leave the blood and be changed into energy. Therefore, the glucose builds up in the blood and leads to high blood sugar levels (gestational diabetes).
Although the specific causes of gestational diabetes are unknown, there may be some potential risk factors. Let's take a look at some of these and how to know if you may be at a high risk for developing gestational diabetes.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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