Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy and usually goes away after the baby is born. It is diagnosed when higher than normal blood glucose levels first appear during pregnancy. Between 5% to 8% of pregnant women will develop gestational diabetes and this usually occurs around the 24th to 28th week of pregnancy.
All women should be tested for gestational diabetes by taking a special blood test. Women who have one or more of the risk factors listed below are advised to have a diabetes test when pregnancy is confirmed then again at 24 weeks if diabetes was not detected in early pregnancy.
While maternal blood glucose levels usually return to normal after birth, there is an increased risk for the mother developing type 2 diabetes in the future. The baby may also be at risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
Who is at Risk?
You are at risk of developing gestational diabetes if you:
- Are over 30 years of age
- Have a family history of type 2 diabetes
- Are overweight
- Are from an Aboriginal orTorres Strait Islander background
- Are from a Vietnamese, Chinese, middle eastern, Polynesian or Melanesian background
- Have had gestational diabetes during previous pregnancies
What causes gestational diabetes?
In pregnancy, the placenta produces hormones that help the baby to grow and develop. These hormones also block the action of the mother’s insulin. This is called insulin resistance. Because of this insulin resistance, the need for insulin in pregnancy is 2 or 3 times higher than normal. If the body is unable to produce this much insulin, gestational diabetes develops.
Gestational Diabetes information sheet
Gestational Diabetes – Caring for yourself and your baby booklet