Gestational diabetes is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. It occurs when the body is unable to produce enough insulin to regulate blood sugar levels during pregnancy. The hormonal changes and increased insulin resistance that occur during pregnancy contribute to the development of gestational diabetes. Other factors that may increase the risk of gestational diabetes include obesity, a family history of diabetes, and previous gestational diabetes. Like the other types of diabetes, Gestational diabetes causes high blood sugar that can affect a women’s pregnancy and her baby’s health.
Gestational diabetes is caused by several factors including:
- Hormonal changes: Pregnancy hormones can interfere with the ability of insulin to lower blood sugar levels.
- Genetics: If a woman’s family history includes cases of diabetes, she is at a higher risk of developing gestational diabetes.
- Obesity: Women who are overweight or obese are more likely to develop gestational diabetes.
- Previous gestational diabetes: Women who have had gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy are at a higher risk of developing it in future pregnancies.
- Advanced maternal age: Women who are older (35 years or older) are at a higher risk of developing gestational diabetes.
Gestational Diabetes Mellitus ( GDM ) affects about 2 to 10% of total pregnancies in US per year.
According to National Vital Statistics Report 2022: Among pregnant women in 2020, the overall rate of GDM was 7.8 per 100 births, an increase of 30% from 2016. Increases occurred from 2016 to 2020, with a larger annual percent change from 2019 to 2020 (13%) compared with the average annual percent change from 2016 to 2019 (5%) overall.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), gestational diabetes affects approximately 9.2% of pregnancies in the United States. This rate has been slowly increasing over the past few decades, largely due to the rising rates of obesity. Women of certain ethnic and racial groups, such as African American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian, and Asian American, have higher rates of gestational diabetes. In addition, women who have had gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy are at a higher risk of developing it in future pregnancies.
Symptoms And Signs:
In most of the cases, Gestational diabetes doesn’t cause noticeable signs or symptoms but few sign & symptoms can be observed.
- Increased Thirst
- More Frequently Urination
- Excessive Hunger
- Blurred Vision
- Vaginal bladder &Skin Infection
Risk Factors :
If you have Gestational diabetes, you are at a higher risk of getting type 2 diabetes. Different Risk factors of the Gestational diabetes includes:
- Obesity or being Overweight: Women who are overweight or obese are more likely to develop gestational diabetes.
- Age: Women who are older(35 years or older) are at a higher risk.
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) : Women with PCOS are at a risk of developing gestational diabetes.
- Ethnicity: Women of certain ethnic and racial groups, such as African American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian, and Asian American, have higher rates of gestational diabetes.
- Family history: Women with a family history have chances to develop gestational diabetes.
- Hypothyroidism: It is a condition in which the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormones leads to weight gain.
- Impaired glucose tolerance or prediabetes: Women with impaired glucose tolerance or prediabetes are at a higher risk of developing gestational diabetes.
- Previous gestational diabetes: Women who have had gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy are at a higher risk to develop gestational diabetes in future pregnancies.
1. For Mother
- Risk of developing Type 2 diabetes after Pregnancy
- More likely to have a C-section
- High blood pressure
2. For baby
- Early Birth-High blood sugar level increase
- The risk of early labor & delivery before the EDD(Expected date of delivery)
- Excessive birth weight- Because of High blood sugar level your baby will grow too large
- Breathing Problems-Baby’s may experience difficulty in breathing
- Low blood sugar-baby’s can have low blood sugar level shortly after birth
- Overweight and type 2 diabetes after a certain age, babies can develop type 2 diabetes and have a high risk of obesity later in life
- Still birth- If it is untreated it can result in baby’s death before or after birth
There are few steps that can help prevent gestational diabetes:
- Maintaining a healthy weight: Women who are overweight or obese are at a higher risk of developing gestational diabetes. Losing weight before pregnancy and avoiding excessive weight gain during pregnancy can help reduce the risk.
- Eating a balanced diet: A diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein can help maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
- Staying active: Regular physical activity can help regulate insulin levels and maintain a healthy weight.
- Monitoring blood sugar levels: Women who are at high risk for gestational diabetes should have their blood sugar levels monitored regularly.
- Avoiding risk factors: Women who smoke, have high blood pressure, or have a family history of diabetes should be especially careful to avoid risk factors for gestational diabetes.
It’s important to talk to a healthcare provider about personalized recommendations and management strategies, as not all women will need to take these precautions and some may need more intensive management.
Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes which occurs during pregnancy only. It can cause health problems both in mother and baby. After the pregnancy the blood sugar level will be automatically come to normal range. Pregnant mother should be aware about the Gestational diabetes and should check their blood sugar level regularly. A little awareness can save you and your baby.
Caution: Before taking any step always consult your Gynaecologist
Sources: GDM, NVS, CDC