Gestational diabetes is the occurrence of diabetes during pregnancy. This condition is specific to pregnant women and goes away after the birth of the child. It happens to women everywhere and can happen to anyone, however there are some risk factors that make gestational diabetes more likely.
Keep in mind that these risk factors are not at all causes of gestational diabetes. There is no exact known cause of gestational diabetes. It is thought that the condition is probably caused by increased hormones impeding the production of insulin in the body. These risk factors describe conditions where gestational diabetes is more likely, but it does not at all diagnose someone with gestational diabetes.
There are plenty of cases where women with nearly all of these risk factors will not have gestational diabetes, but women with absolutely no risk factors will. There is no way to truly know who might have gestational diabetes other than testing, and for this reason all pregnant women are tested in their second trimester regardless of what risk factors they may or may not have.
Common Risk Factors
• Weight: Women who are overweight are more likely to have gestational diabetes. Women with a body mass index (BMI) of over 30 are considered to be at risk for gestational diabetes. If you are very overweight, your doctor might recommend that you do your gestational diabetes screening early or even more than once to ensure the healthiest pregnancy possible.
• Age: Women over the age of 25 are more likely to develop gestational diabetes, and this risk increases with age.
• Race: Women of non-white races seem to be more at risk for gestational diabetes. The reasons for this are so far unknown, but statistics make race a risk factor.
• Previous Pregnancies: If you have had a previous gestational diabetes pregnancy, you are more at risk for gestational diabetes in subsequent pregnancies. You are also at risk if you have previously birthed a large baby, over 9 pounds.
• Health History: Your personal and family health history also contributes as a risk factor for gestational diabetes. You are more at risk for gestational diabetes if you have a family history of type 2 diabetes.
These risk factors tend to contribute to the occurrence of gestational diabetes. Women with one or more of these risk factors are more likely to have gestational diabetes, but again it does not mean that gestational diabetes is definite. The only way to know if you have gestational diabetes is through a glucose screening process done through your obstetrician’s office. The test is relatively simple; you just drink a glucose solution and then have your blood sugar tested. Talk to your OB/GYN about any questions or fears you might have about gestational diabetes and testing for the condition. For more gestational diabetes information, click here.