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Conditions InDepth: Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that begins during pregnancy and usually resolves after the baby is born.

During pregnancy, placental hormones (growth hormone, prolactin, cortisol, placental lactogen, progesterone) are produced that can block the effectiveness of insulin, leading to a relative insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone that helps the body convert food into energy. Without insulin, glucose from the food you eat cannot enter cells, and glucose builds up in the blood.

In most women, the pancreas increases insulin production enough to offset this resistance. When the pancreas fails to keep pace, gestational diabetes occurs. In addition to causing problems for the mother, the excess glucose in the blood can cross the placenta and cause problems for the baby.

Complications for women with gestational diabetes mellitus include an increased chance of:

Complications affecting the fetus or infant include:

Children whose mothers had gestational diabetes are at higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes .

If you have gestational diabetes, maintaining good control over your glucose levels during pregnancy significantly reduces the risk of complications to you and to your baby.

What are the risk factors for gestational diabetes?What are the symptoms of gestational diabetes?How is gestational diabetes diagnosed?What are the treatments for gestational diabetes?Are there screening tests for gestational diabetes?How can I reduce my risk of gestational diabetes?What questions should I ask my doctor?Where can I get more information about gestational diabetes?

Revision Information

  • Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated September 27, 2015. Accessed October 7, 2015.

  • Hillier TA, Pedula KL, et al. Excess gestational weight gain: modifying fetal macrosomia risk associated with maternal glucose. Obstet Gynecol. 2008;112:1007-1014.

  • What I need to know about gestational diabetes. National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse (NDIC) website. Available at: Updated August 2013. Accessed October 7, 2015.

  • 2/5/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance: Cheng YW, Chung JH, et al. Gestational weight gain and gestational diabetes mellitus: perinatal outcomes. Obstet Gynecol. 2008;112:1015-1022.

The health information in this Health Library is provided by a third party. Parkridge Health System does not in any way create the content of this information. It is provided solely for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical advice and is not intended to be a substitute for proper medical care provided by a physician. Always consult with your doctor for appropriate examinations, treatment, testing, and care recommendations. Do not rely on information on this site as a tool for self-diagnosis. If you have a medical emergency, call 911.