In the spotlight: gestational diabetes explained

What is gestational diabetes?

Growing a baby is hard work and for some women, it puts too much stress on their bodies and they develop gestational diabetes. For most women, once their baby is born, the diabetes goes away but we also know that women with gestational diabetes are about 10 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes around 5-10 years later.

How common is it?

1-in-8 women get gestational diabetes, making it the most common pregnancy complication worldwide. Because it is so common, everyone gets screened.

Why are some women at higher risk of developing gestational diabetes?

There is a fairly long list of risk factors that we know are linked to women who develop gestational diabetes. There are some risk factors you can’t change – your age or a family history of diabetes – but there are some that can be changed, like weight. If we can screen women early, we can better support them.

How is gestational diabetes diagnosed?

The test for gestational diabetes involves taking some blood before and after drinking a sugary drink to see how your body responds. This test is called a glucose tolerance test and is normally done at 24-26 weeks pregnant. Your hospital will provide you with lots of support if you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes after the test.

Does gestational diabetes affect your baby?

Women with gestational diabetes have a higher chance of having large babies because the glucose in the woman’s blood can cross into the baby’s blood, giving them more energy than they need so they get bigger. The babies of women with gestational diabetes have a higher risk of developing overweight or diabetes in the future.

How will the Bump2Baby and Me study help?

Providing more lifestyle support to women at risk of gestational diabetes during pregnancy and afterwards is important. We are testing two different ways of doing this to see which works best. Every mum taking part is helping us build better care for more mums in the future!