Gestational diabetes (during pregnancy)

Abdomen | Endocrinology and Metabolism | Gestational diabetes (during pregnancy) (Disease)


Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is a condition in which the glucose level is elevated and other diabetic symptoms appear during pregnancy in a woman who has not previously been diagnosed with diabetes. All diabetic symptoms disappear following delivery.

Gestational diabetes generally has few symptoms and it is most commonly diagnosed by screening during pregnancy. Diagnostic tests detect inappropriately high levels of glucose in blood samples. Gestational diabetes affects 3-10% of pregnancies, depending on the population studied, so may be a natural phenomenon.

Common symptoms of gestational diabetes include blurred vision, fatigue, increased thirst, and increased urination. Other symptoms include dizziness, faintness, headaches, nausea, vomiting, and poor weight gain during pregnancy.

Causes and Risk factors

Unlike type 1 diabetes, gestational diabetes is not caused by a lack of insulin, but by blocking effects of other hormones on the insulin that is produced, a condition referred to as insulin resistance.

As with diabetes mellitus in pregnancy in general, babies born to mothers with gestational diabetes are typically at increased risk of problems such as being large for gestational age (which may lead to delivery complications), low blood sugar, and jaundice. Gestational diabetes is a treatable condition and women who have adequate control of glucose levels can effectively decrease these risks.

Diagnosis and Treatment

The goal of treatment is to reduce the risks of GDM for mother and child.

Scientific evidence is beginning to show that controlling glucose levels can result in less serious fetal complications (such as macrosomia) and increased maternal quality of life. Unfortunately, treatment of GDM is also accompanied by more infants admitted to neonatal wards and more inductions of labour, with no proven decrease in cesarean section rates or perinatal mortality. These findings are still recent and controversial. ...