Gestational Diabetes Overview in Pregnancy | Tampa General Hospital


Gestational diabetes develops in pregnant women who do not already have diabetes. Like other types of diabetes, gestational diabetes prevents the body from properly metabolizing glucose (sugar). There is no cure for this condition, but it is treatable and blood sugar typically returns to normal after giving birth.

Gestational Diabetes Causes

It’s not clear why gestational diabetes occurs in some women but not others, although researchers have identified several factors that can increase a woman’s chances of experiencing gestational diabetes during pregnancy. These include:

  • Being older than 25
  • Having a family history of diabetes
  • Being overweight before pregnancy
  • Having high blood pressure
  • Carrying twins or triplets
  • Gaining too much weight during pregnancy

Gestational Diabetes Symptoms

Gestational diabetes typically doesn’t cause noticeable symptoms, although some expectant mothers may feel extra thirsty or need to use the restroom more.

Women with gestational diabetes who manage their condition properly can deliver healthy babies without experiencing any long-term health problems. However, improper management may lead to serious complications for both mother and baby. For example:

  • A woman with this condition is at an increased risk of high blood pressure and preeclampsia.
  • A woman who develops gestational diabetes is more likely to develop type 2 diabetes at some point in her life.
  • A child may develop hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) due to his or her own insulin levels being high after birth.
  • A child is more likely to become obese and develop type 2 diabetes if the mother has gestational diabetes.
  • Excessive glucose in the mother’s bloodstream may result in an overproduction of insulin in the child, which can cause high birth weights.
  • Untreated gestational diabetes may also result in preterm birth and the child developing respiratory distress syndrome.

Gestational Diabetes Diagnosis

Physicians usually test for gestational diabetes in the middle of a woman’s pregnancy, around 24 to 28 weeks. If a woman is considered to be at an increased risk, she may be tested early in pregnancy.

One common screening method for gestational diabetes is a glucose challenge test. During the test, a woman drinks a sweet glucose solution, waits an hour and then undergoes a blood test to measure blood sugar levels. If blood sugar levels are too high, a follow-up test is given to confirm the diagnosis.

Gestational Diabetes Treatments

By providing individualized care from a multispecialty team, Tampa General Hospital’s Women’s Institute help mothers with gestational diabetes avoid health complications for themselves and their children. Many gestational diabetes treatment plans involve a combination of:

  • Regular exercise
  • Healthy diet choices
  • Regular blood sugar monitoring
  • Insulin injections or medication to help control blood sugar