Gestational Diabetes is a type of diabetes that occurs in women when they are pregnant. The causes of gestational diabetes are not known but some people have a higher risk of developing the condition. The risk factors for developing gestational diabetes include:
- Age-older women are at more risk
- Not taking regular physical activity
- Immediate family history of diabetes
- History of gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Gestational diabetes can often be controlled with diet and exercise. One or two women in every 10 with gestational diabetes will require medication to control their blood glucose levels.
If gestational diabetes is not detected and controlled, it can increase the risk of birth complications, such as shoulder dystocia (when the baby’s shoulder gets stuck during the birth). It can also lead to babies being large for their gestational age. In most cases, gestational diabetes develops in the second or third trimester (from week 14 of the pregnancy to the birth) and disappears after the baby is born. However, women who develop gestational diabetes are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes later in life.
Gestational diabetes is detected by using an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) or a random blood glucose test. These test the amount of glucose (sugar) in a sample of blood taken from a vein in your arm.
A random glucose blood test may involve having one or several samples of blood tested to see if your blood glucose levels are as expected, or if they vary widely.
For an OGTT, a sample of your blood will be tested, then you will be given a glucose drink. Another sample of blood will then be taken every half an hour for two hours, to see how your body is dealing with the glucose.
If you do not have gestational diabetes, you may be asked to return to have another blood test around weeks 24-28.
If you do have gestational diabetes, you will be given advice about how to control and monitor your blood glucose levels