Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM) is a type of diabetes that develops during pregnancy. It occurs when the body is not able to produce enough insulin to meet the increased demands of pregnancy, leading to high blood sugar levels. GDM typically occurs around the 24th to 28th week of pregnancy and affects approximately 2-10% of pregnant women.


The exact cause of GDM is not fully understood, but hormonal changes during pregnancy can contribute to insulin resistance, where the body’s cells do not respond effectively to insulin. Factors that increase the risk of developing GDM include being overweight or obese, having a family history of diabetes, previous history of GDM, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and certain ethnic backgrounds (such as Asian, Hispanic, or African descent).


GDM can have implications for both the mother and the baby. The mother may experience complications such as preeclampsia (high blood pressure), cesarean delivery, and an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life. The baby may be at risk of macrosomia (larger than average birth weight), birth injuries, low blood sugar levels after birth (neonatal hypoglycemia), and an increased risk of developing obesity and type 2 diabetes later in life.


The diagnosis of GDM is usually made through a glucose challenge test followed by a glucose tolerance test if the initial screening is positive. Treatment and management of GDM focus on controlling blood sugar levels to minimize risks to both the mother and the baby. This typically involves following a healthy and balanced diet, regular physical activity, and monitoring blood sugar levels. In some cases, insulin or other medications may be prescribed to help manage blood sugar levels.


Women with GDM will require regular monitoring and prenatal care throughout the pregnancy. This includes frequent check-ups with healthcare providers to assess blood sugar control, monitor fetal growth, and address any concerns. After delivery, blood sugar levels usually return to normal, but women who have had GDM are at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life and should undergo regular postpartum screening.


It’s important for women with GDM to work closely with their healthcare team, which may include obstetricians, endocrinologists and dietitians. By effectively managing blood sugar levels through lifestyle modifications and appropriate medical interventions, most women with GDM can have successful pregnancies and deliver healthy babies.