Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that occurs only during pregnancy. According to Florence Brown, M.D., and Tamara Takoudes, M.D., and co-directors of the Joslin-Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Diabetes and Pregnancy Program, gestational diabetes usually strikes between the 24th and 28th week of pregnancy, affecting a total of four percent of all pregnancies. Rates of gestational diabetes are on the rise in the United States, particularly in the African American, Hispanic, American Indian and Alaskan native communities, however, any woman can develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy.

A manageable condition

If you're one of the four percent of women facing gestational diabetes, it may be comforting to know that the condition can be managed. You may want to speak to your doctor about visiting the Joslin-Beth Israel Pregnancy Program, where you can develop a nutrition and fitness program that will help you take control of gestational diabetes, and avoid complications. Doctors in the Pregnancy Program can also help you initiate an insulin treatment plan if necessary.

Increased risk for type 2

After you've successfully managed gestational diabetes, it is important to be vigilant about eating right and staying active—that's because women who have had gestational diabetes have a fifty percent risk of developing type 2 diabetes in 10 to 20 years after the birth of the child. Unlike gestational diabetes, once type 2 has been diagnosed, it doesn't go away. For more information on type 2 diabetes, check out this article.

Preventing gestational diabetes

It's important to take the right steps towards a healthy pregnancy, and that includes determining if you might be at risk for gestational diabetes. The following may increase your risk of gestational diabetes:

  • If a parent or sibling has diabetes
  • If you're overweight
  • Previous history of gestational diabetes, or having given birth to a baby weighing 9 pounds or more
  • If you've been diagnosed with "pre-diabetes" prior to a pregnancy (also known as "impaired glucose tolerance" or "impaired fasting glucose")
  • You are of African American, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic/Latino, or Pacific Islander descent

For more information about the Joslin-Beth Israel Pregnancy Program, or to make an appointment, please call 617-732-2496.