Gestational Diabetes: Causes, Complications, and Risks






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 1. What is Gestational Diabetes?

Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that only affects pregnant women. It is an incredibly common pregnancy complication, and it occurs in about 4 percent of all pregnancies.


Most women who are going to develop gestational diabetes do so at or around the 24th week mark of pregnancy. During pregnancy, the hormones that are being produced by the pregnancy can lead to higher blood sugar levels.


The problem is, gestational diabetes usually has no symptoms, and women don’t even know that they have it. That’s why most doctors choose to do a glucose screening test right around 24 to 28 weeks gestation.

2. Who’s At Risk

Some women are more at risk than other women for gestational diabetes. Some of the risk factors include being overweight or obese (defined as having a Body Mass Index greater than 30), having sugar in your urine, having a strong family history of diabetes, or if a woman has already experienced gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy.


If you are over 35, have high blood pressure, have experienced an unexplained stillbirth, or have given birth to an extremely large baby, your doctor might also label you as high risk for gestational diabetes.

3. What Happens If You Test Positive?

Testing positive for gestational diabetes can definitely be scary, however, most women go on to have no pregnancy or labor complications at all, and their babies are just fine. Usually, following a healthy diet regimen and exercising regulGestational Diabetes: Causes, Complications, and Risksarly is enough to keep the problems associated with gestational diabetes at bay.

Women-with-gestational-diabetes-do-need-to-monitor-their-blood-sugar-regularly to make sure that it is staying in the appropriate ranges. Sometimes, complications of gestational diabetes can cause a woman to gain too much weight. This can also be passed on to the baby, and can cause a woman to give birth to an excessively large baby.

4. Complications of Gestational Diabetes

There are sometimes some complications associated with gestational diabetes. Women who have extremely large babies will sometimes have to deal with very difficult labors. The baby may be too large to enter the birth canal, and this can cause nerve damage or even fractured bones during delivery.


Not to mention the fact that babies who weigh too much at birth usually go on to become overweight babies, toddlers, children, teenagers and even adults. How much a baby weighs at birth really does matter.


Babies whose mothers suffer from poorly controlled blood sugar often have breathing problems at birth, and a number of studies have also noted an increased risk of stillbirth in women who have poorly controlled blood sugar. If you have questions about your risk of gestational diabetes, make sure to ask your doctor.

Ms. Wisniewski has over 15 years experience as a labor and delivery nurse, having also worked previously as a nurse midwife in the Philippines and India. She enjoys empowering women and providing family centered care to women from all cultural and educational backgrounds.