All expecting mothers will be tested for gestational diabetes at some point during their
pregnancy. Expecting mothers who are over the age of 35, over weight, or have a family history of diabetes may be
tested earlier and more frequently.
What is gestational diabetes?
Gestational diabetes is a temporary form (in most cases) of diabetes in which the body does not
produce adequate amounts of insulin to deal with sugar during pregnancy. It may also be called glucose intolerance
or carbohydrate intolerance. Signs and symptoms can include:
Sugar in urine (revealed in a test done in your doctor’s office)
Frequent infections of bladder, vagina and skin
Who gets gestational diabetes, and why do I have to be
Approximately 2-5% of all expecting mothers will develop gestational diabetes; this number may
increase to 7-9% in populations where mothers are more likely to have risk factors. The screening for this disease
usually will take place some time between your 24th and 28th week of pregnancy. Doctors test for gestational
diabetes during this time because the placenta is producing large amounts of hormones that may cause insulin
resistance. If the result comes back with elevated levels, further testing would be done to confirm a diagnosis of
What should I expect during my test?
During your prenatal visit your doctor will give you a sweet liquid (sweet does not necessarily
mean good!) to drink one hour before your blood is drawn. It may cause you to feel a bit nauseous. The results will
indicate if you are producing enough insulin or not.
If I have gestational diabetes how will I be treated?
The biggest part of treating gestational diabetes is controlling your blood sugar levels. There
are things you and your doctor can do in order to control your levels and keep them at a safe and normal
Close monitoring of you and your baby
Self monitoring of blood glucose levels
Insulin therapy, if necessary
Diet and exercise management
It has been reported that women who develop gestational diabetes have a greater chance of developing
overt (Type II) diabetes later in life.
Is there anything I should be afraid of?
If gestational diabetes is diagnosed and treated effectively, there is little risk of
complications. If gestational diabetes is not treated, effects for mother and baby can include:
With proper care and treatment, women with gestational diabetes can have healthy babies, and the
diabetes should disappear after delivery.
It is important that you watch for any continuing signs that you may still be diabetic after
giving birth. These symptoms include:
Testing may be done a few months after the delivery to make sure your blood sugar levels have
returned back to normal.