Gestational Diabetes: Causes, Diagnosis & Treatment | Wockhardt Hospitals

Gestational Diabetes: Causes, Diagnosis & Treatment

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Gestational diabetes is a temporary diabetes that occurs during pregnancy and affects how the body processes sugar. Between weeks 24 & 28, gestational diabetes typically starts to manifest itself in the middle of pregnancy. The development of this type of diabetes does not imply that the woman had diabetes prior to becoming pregnant; it is generally due to hormonal imbalances caused by pregnancy. After giving delivery, a woman’s gestational diabetes disappears. However, it can elevate the risk of type 2 diabetes later in life and may have an impact on the health of the unborn child.

Generally, gestational diabetes treatment depends on a healthy diet and regular exercise. Insulin is occasionally required for women who have gestational diabetes.

Gestational Diabetes Causes

When the body is unable to produce enough insulin to cope with the increasing demands of pregnancy, gestational diabetes develops. Several factors contribute to its development:

  • Hormonal Changes – During pregnancy, the body goes through significant hormonal changes, including increased levels of certain hormones like Human Placental Lactogen (HPL) and progesterone. Insulin resistance can result from these hormones interfering with the body’s capacity to utilize insulin efficiently.
  • Genetics – If a woman has a family history of diabetes, especially gestational diabetes, she may be at a higher risk of having it during pregnancy. The body’s ability to metabolize glucose is influenced by genetics.
  • Weight Gain – Being overweight before pregnancy or gaining excessive weight during pregnancy can increase the risk of developing gestational diabetes. Fat can interfere with insulin’s ability to regulate blood sugar.
  • Age – Women who become pregnant at an older age (over 25) are at a higher risk of gestational diabetes. The body’s insulin sensitivity tends to decrease with age, making it harder to regulate blood sugar levels.
  • Previous Gestational Diabetes – If the mother had gestational diabetes in the previous pregnancy, the risk of developing it in subsequent pregnancies increases.
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) – Compared to women without PCOS, women with PCOS have a greater chance of developing gestational diabetes. It can be because insulin resistance and PCOS go hand in hand.
  • Ethnicity – Some ethnic groups, like African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, and Asians, are more prone to gestational diabetes.

Who is at Risk for Gestational Diabetes?

Anyone who is pregnant has the potential to acquire gestational diabetes. But the danger is greater for individuals over 25. The following are other variables that might raise its risk:

  • Heart disease
  • Inactivity
  • Obesity or being overweight.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Family History
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
  • Previous birth of a baby weighing 9 pounds or more.
  • Prediabetes (History of higher-than-normal blood glucose).

Gestational Diabetes Diagnosis

Early diagnosis of gestational diabetes symptoms & management of gestational diabetes are crucial to ensure a healthy pregnancy and delivery. Medical specialists advise screening for gestational diabetes around the 26th week of pregnancy or earlier if they have risk factors for the medical condition. The gestational diabetes diagnosis procedure typically involves the following steps:

  • Screening Test – Between 24 & 28 weeks of pregnancy, the women will be asked to undergo a glucose screening test. It involves drinking a sugary solution and then having your blood sugar levels tested after a certain time frame. Elevated blood sugar levels at this stage may indicate the need for further testing.
  • Glucose Tolerance Test (GTT) – If the screening test results are elevated, the doctor will recommend a glucose tolerance test. This test involves fasting overnight and then having your blood sugar levels tested at multiple intervals after drinking a more concentrated sugar solution. If the blood sugar remains high, the woman may be diagnosed with gestational diabetes.
  • Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) test – A blood test called the HbA1c test calculates the average blood sugar levels over the previous 2-3 months. Although it is not frequently used, it is sometimes advisable to identify gestational diabetes. Positive test results are usually more than 5.8%. 
  • Ultrasound – The doctor may also use ultrasound to monitor the baby’s growth and development. Gestational diabetes can lead to larger-than-average babies, increasing the risk of complications during delivery.

Gestational Diabetes Treatment

The primary goal in gestational diabetes treatment is to maintain stable blood sugar levels, ensuring the health of both the mother and the baby. Treatment methods may include the following:

Blood Sugar Monitoring

It’s crucial to frequently monitor blood sugar levels. To ensure that the blood sugar remains within a safe range when a woman is pregnant, the doctor may advise checking the blood sugar four or more times each day, ideally first thing in the morning and after meals.

Lifestyle Changes 

Our lifestyle, including what we eat and how much exercise we get, is crucial to maintaining appropriate blood sugar levels. Because the body is working so hard to support the developing baby, doctors typically advise against losing weight during pregnancy. However, based on the woman’s weight before pregnancy, a doctor can assist in establishing weight increase targets.

Changes in lifestyle include:

  • Diet & Nutrition – A balanced diet tailored to your needs is a crucial aspect of managing gestational diabetes. Your healthcare provider or a certified dietitian can help you create a meal plan that maintains your blood sugar within the target range. It often involves monitoring carbohydrate intake and choosing complex carbohydrates that release sugar slowly.
  • Exercise – Regular physical activity is essential in managing gestational diabetes. It helps your body absorb insulin more effectively and can lower blood sugar levels. The healthcare provider can advise you on the right type and amount of exercise for your specific situation.


In some cases, lifestyle changes alone may not be enough to manage gestational diabetes. In such instances, the doctor may prescribe insulin or other medications to help regulate blood sugar.

Foetal Monitoring

Close monitoring of the infant is a crucial component of the treatment approach. For mothers with gestational diabetes, ongoing monitoring of the baby’s growth and well-being is essential. Ultrasound scans are frequently performed in this situation to check if the baby is growing at a healthy rate. If the mother doesn’t go into labour by the due date, the doctor may induce labour. Delivering after the due date may increase the risk of complications for the mother and the baby.

Choose Wockhardt Hospitals for Best Diabetes Treatment & Management

When it comes to visiting the right healthcare provider for gestational diabetes, Wockhardt Hospitals stands out as an excellent choice. Our team of experienced healthcare professionals, including obstetricians, endocrinologists, dietitians, and nurses, collaborates to provide comprehensive care. Modern diagnostic and monitoring tools are available at Wockhardt Hospitals, assuring the finest treatment for both mother and child.

While gestational diabetes can be challenging to manage, early diagnosis and effective treatment are crucial for the well-being of both the mother and the baby. The causes of gestational diabetes vary; however, understanding these factors and their implications can help healthcare providers and expectant mothers take appropriate preventive measures.

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