Home > House Calls > What is Gestational Diabetes?
House Call Questions
"Diabetes runs in my family. I just learned I'm pregnant and wonder if I am going to develop gestational diabetes?"
Answer: Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is defined as glucose intolerance – high blood sugars – that begins, or is first recognized, during pregnancy. Because some of your family members have diabetes, you are at higher risk of gestational diabetes. Women who are at high risk – very overweight, previous GDM or a strong family history of diabetes – should have a fasting blood glucose test during one of their early prenatal exams. Because of your elevated risk, you should talk to your doctor about such a test and follow recommendations for care throughout your pregnancy to reduce harmful affects to your baby and yourself. GDM is related to many complications of pregnancy, including high blood pressure. Left untreated, GDM increases the risk of having a large baby, which may require a Cesarean section for delivery. Other risks include congenital abnormalities and a greater chance of fetal death or birth trauma to both mother and baby. Some studies have linked GDM to an increased risk of obesity in infants and later in childhood. Fortunately, many of these problems can be prevented if GDM is diagnosed and treated effectively. GDM can be treated with diet and exercise, oral medications or insulin. Successful treatment includes adequately controlling blood sugars by carefully following proper medical guidance. If insulin is prescribed, it is essential to perform frequent at-home glucose measurements and regular medical evaluations.