Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is one of the most common conditions affecting pregnancy—and it’s on the rise. Often there are no symptoms, or they’re very subtle.
GDM happens when your blood sugar levels become high during pregnancy, and you don’t have a history of diabetes. Though it can occur at any stage, it’s most common in the second and third trimester, and usually disappears after your baby is born.
If you’re diagnosed with gestational diabetes mellitus, it means your body is struggling to produce enough insulin—the hormone that helps regulate blood sugar levels.
So, instead of blood sugar (glucose) being moved to your cells where your body needs it for energy, it builds up in your blood, where it can cause complications for both mom and baby, including large birth weight, pre-term birth, and a risk of developing type 2 diabetes in later life.
What are the symptoms of gestational diabetes?
Most pregnant women with gestational diabetes don’t experience any noticeable symptoms. If your blood sugar is high (also known as hyperglycemia) during pregnancy, you might notice some of the following signs:
Contact your gynecologist if you’re worried that you’re at risk of or that you’re showing signs of gestational diabetes.
How to diagnose GDM?
Doctors use blood tests to diagnose gestational diabetes mellitus. These tests show how well your body uses glucose.
Routine screening usually takes place between 24-28 weeks of pregnancy, though you might be tested earlier if you’re at risk or are showing symptoms. The most common diagnosis method is the oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT), which measures how the body responds to sugar.
About 1 in 2 women with a positive diagnosis for gestational diabetes mellitus will develop Type 2 diabetes within 5-10 years of having a baby.
While untreated gestational diabetes mellitus can cause health problems for both mom and baby, the good news is that following a healthy diet and lifestyle before and during pregnancy can help reduce the risk of developing it.
Learn how to avoid GDM