By on November 15, 2016

What is Gestational Diabetes Mellitus?

The definition of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is glucose intolerance recognized and diagnosed during pregnancy. This diagnosis is for women with any form of treatment, such as insulin and diet modifications, and whether the condition continues after pregnancy. GDM affects approximately 7 percent of all pregnancies, which is more than 200,000 cases annually.

How is GDM diagnosed?

Doctors will assess your risk of GDM during your first prenatal visit. Women with a high risk of GDM, which include women who are obese, have a personal history of GDM, or family history of diabetes, should undergo glucose testing. If they find no sign of GDM, retesting will occur between 24 to 28 weeks of gestation.

GDM Considerations

GDM increases the risk of macrosomia, which is when the fetus grows to be very large.  This can make vaginal delivery difficult and increases the risk of birth injury and cesarean delivery.  It can also increase the risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) in the newborn. For these reasons, women with GDM are advised to maintain a normal blood sugar during pregnancy.

Severe forms of GDM may be associated with an increased risk of intrauterine fetal death, but this is typically only for women with actual diabetes prior to pregnancy. GDM can also be associated with maternal hypertensive disorders, which sometimes requires an early delivery.

Women with GDM have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes in their lifetime. Obesity and components that contribute to insulin resistance appear to increase this risk. Therefore, anyone with GDM during pregnancy should have regular testing for diabetes as part of their routine medical care.


Maternal Fetal Medicine blogs are intended for educational purposes only and do not replace certified professional care. Medical conditions vary and change frequently. Please ask your doctor any questions you may have regarding your condition to receive a proper diagnosis or risk analysis. Thank you!

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