Gestational Diabetes: Who is at greatest risk?

Photo Credit: o5com from Flickr

Gestational Diabetes Causes High Blood Sugar

Gestational diabetes is a condition that causes high blood sugar. The condition only occurs in pregnant women and affects approximately 18% of pregnancies. While some women who develop gestational diabetes do not have any of the risk factors for the disease, there are certain factors that can lead to a woman developing the condition.

Risk Factors Before Pregnancy

Studies have shown that women who were overweight before they became pregnant have a higher risk of developing gestational diabetes. Women who fall into the category of being overweight have a body mass index (BMI) of between 25 and 29.9. Obesity is defined as a BMI of 30 or higher. The risk for gestational diabetes also increases when a woman has a family history of diabetes or if she is older than 25 while she is pregnant. If the woman has a history of prediabetes, type 1 or type 2 diabetes, polycystic ovarian syndrome or glucose intolerance, her risk also increases. For reasons that do not have an explanation, women who are African American, Hispanic, American Indian or Asian seem to have a higher chance of developing gestational diabetes.

Risks Factors Associated With Past Pregnancies

Women who have previously given birth to a baby that had fetal macrosomia have a greater chance of developing gestational diabetes. Fetal macrosomia is defined as giving birth to a baby that is above the 90th percentile for weight, age and sex. Babies who have fetal macrosomia are usually around 9 pounds or heavier at birth. Women may also have an increased chance of developing gestational diabetes if they have a prior history of babies born with birth defects or if they have a history of miscarriage or stillbirth. If a woman developed the condition during her a past pregnancy, that does put her at risk for the condition occurring in subsequent pregnancies.

Risk Factors During Pregnancy

During pregnancy, a woman will have routine tests performed to ensure both she and the baby are healthy. If glucose (sugar) is found in her urine at a routine doctor’s visit, it increases the chance that she will develop gestational diabetes. Women who suddenly gain a large amount of weight during pregnancy, have an excessive amount of amniotic fluid, or those who develop high blood pressure are also at an increased risk for gestational diabetes.

Treating Gestational Diabetes

The symptoms of gestational diabetes can be confused with normal pregnancy symptoms. A woman may experience fatigue, nausea, vomiting, blurred vision or increased urination. The condition usually develops during the second trimester. All women who are pregnant are recommended to have an oral glucose tolerance test between 24 and 28 weeks of gestation. If a woman develops gestational diabetes during pregnancy, her physician will create a treatment plan for her. The treatment plan usually includes information on maintaining a healthy diet, exercising and checking blood sugar levels daily. If her blood sugar continues to rise, she may be advised to use insulin injections or other diabetes medications.

Thank-you for reading this article.  Please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section below.


Gestational diabetes: risk factors. (2011, March 24). Retrieved from

Have your say