Unlike cases of pre-existing diabetes, gestational diabetes typically doesn’t pose a threat to the developing fetus as it appears after the body has formed. But dangers to the mother and unborn baby can develop if the condition isn’t treated.
Gestational diabetes can develop in some women without risk factors. In other women, they may have had the following risk factors prior to pregnancy:
- Immediate relative with diabetes
- BMI (body mass index) of 30 or above
- Delivered a baby weighing over 9 pounds previously
- Had gestational diabetes before
- High-risk ethnic group
- Impaired fasting glucose on previous testing
- Polycystic ovary syndrome
Gestational Diabetes Test
Screenings for gestational diabetes are typically done at 24 to 28 weeks for mothers who aren’t at high risk. Pregnant mothers drink a sweetened solution then have their blood glucose levels tested an hour later. An abnormal blood glucose triggers an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT). In an OGTT, the mother fasts overnight and drinks a sweetened solution the following day. Her blood glucose levels are then tested three times over three hours.
If gestational diabetes is left untreated, high blood glucose levels can be passed to the unborn baby, possibly causing:
- Low blood glucose levels at birth
- Higher than normal weight at birth
- Delivery difficulties
Gestational diabetes can also lead to Type 2 diabetes during the life of the mother.
What can you do if you have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes? Keep all your doctor appointments and let them know of your concerns while pregnant.
Source: The Art and Science of Diabetes Self-Management Education Desk Reference, 4th edition