During pregnancy, approximately 1 in 10 women develop gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes can develop in women with no history of diabetes. In pregnancy, the placenta supports the baby as it grows. Hormones from the placenta help the baby develop. But these hormones also block the action of the mother’s insulin in her body. Gestational diabetes develops when the pancreas fails to produce enough insulin to effectively metabolize glucose. In pregnancy, gestational diabetes might require medication to manage the mother’s glucose levels.
After delivery, it is important to follow up with your healthcare provider. Women who had gestational diabetes have a 35-60 percent chance of developing type 2 diabetes within 5-10 years. Current recommendations suggest a 2 hour glucose challenge at 6-12 weeks after delivery of the baby. If that test is normal, then the patient should check a fasting glucose level at least every 3 years.
Patients can help reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by continuing to follow a good diet suggested by American Diabetes Association and exercising regularly. Breastfeeding also helps to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.