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Gestational Diabetes (GDM)

A type of diabetes that develops only during pregnancy and usually disappears upon delivery, but increases the mother's risk of developing diabetes later in life. GDM is managed with meal planning, physical activity, and, in some cases, medication.

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(Source: NIH - National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases)

About Gestational Diabetes

Gestational (jes-TAY-shun-ul) diabetes is a type of diabetes that can happen during pregnancy. It means you have never had diabetes before. Having gestational diabetes means you have a problem with high blood sugar while you are pregnant. The treatment is to control blood sugar. This can help prevent a difficult birth. It also helps keep your baby healthy.

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Read more about Gestational Diabetes

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Diabetes in Pregnancy: Management of Diabetes and Its Complications from Preconception to the Postnatal Period

Clinical guidelines have been defined as ‘systematically developed statements which assist clinicians and patients in making decisions about appropriate treatment for specific conditions’. This clinical guideline concerns the management of diabetes and its complications from preconception to the postnatal period. It has been developed with the aim of providing guidance on:

Interconception care for women with a history of gestational diabetes for improving maternal and infant outcomes

Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is a condition in which high blood sugar (hyperglycaemia) occurs, or is first recognised, during pregnancy. GDM is associated with complications for the mother and her baby both during and after pregnancy. Women with GDM are at an increased risk of developing pre‐eclampsia (high blood pressure and protein in the urine during pregnancy), having a caesarean birth, and developing type 2 diabetes in the future. Babies of women with GDM are at an increased risk of macrosomia (birthweight greater than 4000 g), birth trauma because of their size, respiratory distress syndrome, and other health complications. They are also at risk of future obesity and type 2 diabetes. GDM typically resolves after birth, but women with GDM are at risk of developing GDM again in future pregnancies. It is possible that women may benefit from interventions such as education, dietary and lifestyle advice, or drug treatment in the interconception period (the time between the end of one pregnancy and the beginning of the next one), to improve their health outcomes in future pregnancies.

Oral anti‐diabetic agents for women with pre‐existing diabetes mellitus, impaired glucose tolerance or previous gestational diabetes mellitus

Pregnant women with type 1 or type 2 diabetes are at a greater risk of adverse outcomes in pregnancy, such as miscarriage or large babies and preterm birth. Being pregnant can trigger diabetes in women with impaired glucose tolerance or can accelerate the development of diabetic complications in women who are already diabetic. Women who have gestational diabetes are at risk of developing diabetes later in life. This means that management is important for women with diabetes and also for women with impaired glucose tolerance or previously diagnosed gestational diabetes.

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Summaries for consumers

Interconception care for women with a history of gestational diabetes for improving maternal and infant outcomes

Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is a condition in which high blood sugar (hyperglycaemia) occurs, or is first recognised, during pregnancy. GDM is associated with complications for the mother and her baby both during and after pregnancy. Women with GDM are at an increased risk of developing pre‐eclampsia (high blood pressure and protein in the urine during pregnancy), having a caesarean birth, and developing type 2 diabetes in the future. Babies of women with GDM are at an increased risk of macrosomia (birthweight greater than 4000 g), birth trauma because of their size, respiratory distress syndrome, and other health complications. They are also at risk of future obesity and type 2 diabetes. GDM typically resolves after birth, but women with GDM are at risk of developing GDM again in future pregnancies. It is possible that women may benefit from interventions such as education, dietary and lifestyle advice, or drug treatment in the interconception period (the time between the end of one pregnancy and the beginning of the next one), to improve their health outcomes in future pregnancies.

Oral anti‐diabetic agents for women with pre‐existing diabetes mellitus, impaired glucose tolerance or previous gestational diabetes mellitus

Pregnant women with type 1 or type 2 diabetes are at a greater risk of adverse outcomes in pregnancy, such as miscarriage or large babies and preterm birth. Being pregnant can trigger diabetes in women with impaired glucose tolerance or can accelerate the development of diabetic complications in women who are already diabetic. Women who have gestational diabetes are at risk of developing diabetes later in life. This means that management is important for women with diabetes and also for women with impaired glucose tolerance or previously diagnosed gestational diabetes.

Treatments for gestational diabetes

The best way of identifying and treating women with abnormal blood glucose tests in pregnancy is not known. Raised blood glucose levels during pregnancy is known as gestational diabetes. This abnormality may be associated with bigger babies, more difficult births and could be associated with higher rates of operative delivery such as caesarean section. The review of eight studies (1418 women) suggests that offering specific treatment for gestational diabetes may be associated with better baby and mother outcomes, but has not found robust evidence on the best choice of treatment which provides the better outcomes for these women and their babies, even if identified correctly. More research is needed to assess long‐term mother and baby outcomes.

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More about Gestational Diabetes

Photo of a pregnant woman

Also called: Gestational diabetes mellitus, Pregnancy-induced diabetes, Diabetes mellitus arising in pregnancy

See Also: Oral Glucose Tolerance Test

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