This type of diabetes is mainly effected by females during pregnancy. The hormonal changes of pregnancy along with genetic and lifestyle factors are the main reason for gestational diabetes. Like type 1 and type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes causes blood sugar levels to become too high. Babies born to mothers with poorly treated gestational diabetes are at increased risk of being too large, having low blood sugar after birth, and jaundice. If untreated, it can also result in a stillbirth. Long term, children are at higher risk of being overweight and developing type 2 diabetes.
During pregnancy, the placenta makes hormones that can lead to a buildup of glucose in your blood. Usually, your pancreas can make enough insulin to handle that. When your body needs additional insulin to process excess glucose in blood, the pancreas secretes more. But if the pancreas can’t keep up with the increased demand for insulin during pregnancy, blood sugar levels rise too high because the cells aren’t using the glucose. This results in gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes needs to be recognized and treated quickly because it can cause health problems for mother and baby.
About 5 to 10 percent of all pregnant women get gestational diabetes. You’re more likely to develop gestational diabetes if you:
In some women gestational diabetes cannot be prevented. Prevention is by maintaining a healthy weight and exercising before pregnancy. Gestational diabetes is a treated with a diabetic diet, exercise, and possibly insulin injections. Most women are able to manage their blood sugar with a diet and exercise. Blood sugar testing among those who are affected is often recommended four times a day.
Doctors use blood tests to diagnose gestational diabetes. You may have the glucose test, the oral glucose tolerance test, or both. These tests show how well your body uses glucose.
Glucose Challenge Test
In this test, a health care professional will draw your blood 1 hour after you drink a sweet liquid containing glucose. You do not need to fast for this test. Fasting means having nothing to eat or drink except water. If your blood glucose is too high—140 or more—you may need to return for an oral glucose tolerance test while fasting. If your blood glucose is 200 or more, you may have type 2 diabetes.
Oral Glucose Tolerance Test
The OGTT measures blood glucose after you fast for at least 8 hours. First, a health care professional will draw your blood. Then you will drink the liquid containing glucose. You will need your blood drawn every hour for 2 to 3 hours for a doctor to diagnose gestational diabetes.
High blood glucose levels at any two or more blood test times—fasting, 1 hour, 2 hours, or 3 hours—mean you have gestational diabetes.