What are the risks of gestational diabetes?

It’s hard to know for sure the effects that gestational diabetes (GDM) will have on a mother or her baby, because it differs from woman-to-woman. Being on top of your health during pregnancy can help lower your chances of developing certain health conditions as a result of GDM.

Gestational diabetes: risks for the mother

Women with gestational diabetes risk the following health problems:

  • Higher possibility of high blood pressure during pregnancy
  • Higher possibility of preeclampsia
  • An increased risk of diabetes after pregnancy, later in life
  • Worsening of current health conditions as a result of the gestational diabetes
  • Bladder infections
  • Injuries from childbirth if the baby is larger than average

Gestational diabetes: risks for the fetus

Because blood sugar gets passed from the mother to baby, extra sugar goes to the baby and raises his or her health risks of the following conditions:

  • A larger-than-normal baby, which increases the risk of delivery and health problems related to a difficult delivery
  • Low blood-glucose after birth or breathing problems after birth
  • Metabolic problems like jaundice
  • Imbalances of calcium or magnesium
  • A higher risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes later in life
  • An increased risk of fetal injury, especially to the arm or shoulder, or even fetal death, during labor

For these reasons, it’s important for women who have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes to manage the condition as best as they are able throughout pregnancy. Try to keep in mind that having GDM doesn’t guarantee that you’ll experience these risks. Healthy management of GDM will decrease the chances that you’ll experience the risks associated with the condition.

  • “The Lasting Impact of Gestational Diabetes on Mothers & Children: Q&A with Judith Fradkin, MD, NIDDK, National Institutes of Health.” HealthyMothersHealthyBabies. National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition, 2012. Web.
  • “Check Your Knowledge: Diabetes and Pregnancy.” CDC. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Nov 3 2014. Web.
  • Colin Tidy. “Pregnancy and Diabetes.” Patient. EMIS Group, Mar 17 2015. Web.
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