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G: What Is Gestational Diabetes?

04/01/2010 10:03 | Updated 22 May 2015

Pregnant woman injecting insulinGestational diabetes (or gestational diabetes mellitus, GDM) is a temporary condition in which women without any previously diagnosed diabetes can experience high blood glucose levels during pregnancy.

The problem is that it generally has few symptoms and is most commonly diagnosed by screening between the 24th and 28th week of pregnancy.

If, however, you are feeling tired, have an increased thirst and need to urinate frequently, it is worth checking with your doctor.

Though the cause of gestational diabetes is unknown, it is thought that it could be down to the hormones produced during pregnancy increasing a woman's resistance to insulin. This results in impaired glucose tolerance.

It affects between two and four per cent of pregnancies and those who are overweight, have a family history of diabetes or have previously had a stillbirth may be at a higher risk of developing the problem.

Babies born to women with gestational diabetes can also be at increased risk of problems such as low blood sugar and jaundice and it may lead to delivery complications as the baby can be larger than it should be.

However, it is a treatable condition and many women can control glucose levels simply with diet modification and moderate exercise, though in some cases anti-diabetic drugs such as insulin can be prescribed.

Following the birth a healthy balanced diet and regular exercise will help to prevent the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

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