Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that affects a mother during pregnancy. The condition causes a high blood sugar level and can lead to several complications for both the mother and the baby if left untreated.
In the majority of cases, the gestational diabetes is resolved after the baby is born, although women who had gestational diabetes during one pregnancy are more likely to develop the condition again in any future pregnancies. They are also more likely to develop type 2 diabetes later in life.
- The risk of a mother getting gestational diabetes again in a future pregnancy is between 30% and 84%. If the second pregnancy occurs within a year of the first, the risk of recurrence is higher.
- Women with a history of gestational diabetes are around seven times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than women who have had a normal pregnancy.
- This risk of type 2 diabetes among women who have experienced gestational diabetes is further increased if the woman needed insulin injections to control her blood sugar during pregnancy. Estimates show that women who needed insulin injections are 50% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes later in life.
- Again, the risk of these women developing type 2 diabetes is further increased if the woman has detectable antibodies against glutamate decarboxylase, islet cells or insulinoma antigen-2.
- Gestational diabetes increases the risk of some birth complications including premature birth, still birth, macrosomia (large baby), hypoglycemia of the newborn, jaundice and mineral deficiencies.
- Babies born to mothers who had gestational diabetes during pregnancy are at a greater risk of developing obesity and type 2 diabetes later in life.
Reviewed by Sally Robertson, BSc