Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that only pregnant women get. If a woman never had diabetes before, then she has gestational diabetes.

Gestational diabetes occurs in about 5 percent of all pregnancies.

Between 24-28 weeks of pregnancy your health care provider will test you for gestational diabetes if you are a woman with average risk. If your risk is higher-than-average, your health care provider may test you earlier.

Methods of testing for gestational diabetes include:

• The one-step approach: A woman will fast for 4 to 8 hours. The health care provider will measure her blood sugar and will do so again 2 hours after she drinks a sugar drink. The test is called “oral glucose tolerance test.”
• The two-step approach: A health care provider measures a woman’s blood sugar 1 hour after drinking a sugar drink. If the woman does not have gestational diabetes, the blood sugar will be normal after 1 hour. Women with high blood sugar after 1 hour will have an oral glucose tolerance test to see if gestational diabetes is present.

Does gestational diabetes affect the baby?

• Most women with gestational diabetes give birth to healthy babies. This is especially true when they control their blood sugar, eat a healthy diet, exercise and keep a healthy weight.

Are there cases when gestational diabetes affects the pregnancy and baby?

• When the baby’s body is larger than normal, it may need to be delivered by cesarean section
• If the baby’s blood sugar is too low, starting to breastfeed right away can help get more glucose to the baby. Administering glucose through a tube into his or her blood may also be needed.
• A baby with jaundice
• A baby with low mineral levels in the blood
• A baby may have trouble breathing and need oxygen or other help (Respiratory Distress Syndrome)

How can a pregnant woman stay healthy and avoid problems in pregnancy and with the baby?

• Know your blood sugar and keep it under control. Test your blood sugar to make it easier to keep it in a healthy range. You will probably need to test a drop of blood several times a day to find out your blood sugar level.
• Eat a healthy diet. Your health care provider can create a plan that is best for you. Controlling carbohydrates is usually an important part of a healthy diet for women with gestational diabetes.
• Get regular, moderate physical activity. Your health care provider can tell you the best activities and right amount for you.
• Keep a healthy weight. This will depend upon how much you weighed before pregnancy. Keep track of your overall weight gain and weekly rate of gain.
• Keep daily records of your diet, physical activity and glucose level. Keep a daily record book. Write down blood sugar numbers, physical activity, and everything you eat and drink in your daily record book. This helps track how well the treatment is working and what, if anything, needs to be changed.
• You might need to take insulin
• You might have to test your urine for glucose levels.

After the baby is born, most women with gestational diabetes return to normal quickly. You should have a blood test to check blood sugar levels six weeks after the baby is born. This test will also check your risk of getting diabetes in the future.

If you want to get pregnant again, have a blood sugar test up to three months before becoming pregnant.

Children born to mothers with gestational diabetes are at a higher risk for obesity, abnormal glucose tolerance, and diabetes.

Women who have had gestational diabetes and children whose mothers had gestational diabetes are at higher lifetime risk for:

• And type 2 diabetes (lifestyle changes may help prevent type 2 diabetes)

More Information:

For more information about gestational diabetes, you can receive a free brochure called “Am I at Risk for Gestational Diabetes?” Write to:

• National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, NIH, DHHS, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office

You can also receive a free 48-booklet (“Managing Gestational Disease: A Patient’s Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy”) from NICHD. Write to:

• National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, NIH, DHHS (2003), Managing Gestational Diabetes: A Patient’s Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy (04-2788). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

Source: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information in this article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. All health concerns should be addressed by a qualified health care professional.

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© 2007 Connie Limon All rights reserved

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Written by: Connie Limon Visit for an extensive list of articles all about pregnancy. For a variety of FREE reprint articles rarely seen elsewhere visit