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GDM Series- Understanding GDM

December 3, 2020

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What is GDM?

Gestational diabetes (or gestational diabetes mellitus, GDM) is a condition in which women without previously diagnosed diabetes exhibit high blood glucose (blood sugar) levels during pregnancy (especially during their third trimester). In other words, pregnant women who have never had diabetes before, but who have high blood glucose (sugar) levels during pregnancy are said to have gestational diabetes.

Why would it start when pregnant?

Although there is no single cause of GDM, it can be largely attributed to pregnancy hormones. The placenta supports the baby as it grows and hormones from the placenta help the baby develop. But these hormones also block the action of the mother's insulin in her body. This problem is called insulin resistance. Insulin resistance makes it hard for the mother's body to use insulin. She may need up to three times as much insulin.

Gestational diabetes starts when the body is not able to make and use all the insulin it needs during pregnancy. Without enough insulin, glucose cannot leave the blood and be changed to energy. Glucose builds up in the blood to high levels, therefore leading to gestational diabetes.

Symptoms of Gestational diabetes

Gestational diabetes generally has few symptoms and it is most commonly diagnosed by screening during pregnancy.

Risk factors

Not all pregnant women are diagnosed with or are at risk of developing GDM. The risk factors can be categorized into the following two groups:  


  • <25 years of age
  • Ethnicity
  • No previous history of poor pregnancy outcomes
  • No family history of Diabetes
  • Erratic sleep patterns/ night shifts
  • Normal pre-pregnancy weight
  • Normal weight gain through pregnancy
  • No history of glucose intolerance


  • Obese
  • Family history of Diabetes
  • Presence of glucose in the urine
  • History of GDM or glucose intolerance
  • Multiple gestation(twins/triplets)
  • Ultrasound scan reporting macrosomia, polyhydramnios

Treating gestational diabetes is a very important. It can help both you and your baby stay healthy. By taking a right action to control your blood glucose levels, you not only protect your baby but also yourself.    

Happy Pregnancy!    

Contributed by-

Sana Khalid,

Cloudnine Hospital

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