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Gestational Diabetes


Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM) is a type of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy, affecting a significant number of women in India and around the world. While pregnancy is a joyous time for most women, it also comes with its own set of health challenges, one of which is gestational diabetes. In this blog, we will explore the prevalence of gestational diabetes in India, the screening process, risk factors, potential risks to both the unborn baby and the mother, strategies for management and the importance of long-term follow-up.

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Prevalence of Gestational Diabetes in India

India is no stranger to the diabetes epidemic. With a large population and changing lifestyles, the prevalence of diabetes, including gestational diabetes, is a growing concern. According to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), India had over 77 million adults living with diabetes in 2019 and the numbers have likely increased since then.

The exact prevalence of gestational diabetes in India can vary by region and population group. However, estimates suggest that it affects around 4-10% of pregnancies in the country. This number is alarming, as untreated gestational diabetes can lead to serious health complications for both the mother and the baby.

Screening for Gestational Diabetes

Screening for gestational diabetes is a critical part of prenatal care in India. We typically recommend screening at the beginning of pregnancy and if normal, repeat between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy, as this is when the condition often develops. Two common methods of screening are:

  1. Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT): In this test, the expectant mother has a fasting sugar test and then drinks a sugary solution. The blood sample is taken at 2 hours to measure how her body processes glucose. High blood sugar levels may indicate gestational diabetes.
  2. Glycosylated Hemoglobin (HbA1c) Test: This test provides an estimate of blood sugar levels over the past two to three months. While it's not the primary screening method, it can be used in certain situations.

Risk Factors for Gestational Diabetes

While gestational diabetes can affect anyone, some women are at a higher risk than others. Common risk factors include:

  • Age: Women aged over 25 are at a higher risk.
  • Obesity: Excess body weight is a major risk factor.
  • Family History: A family history of diabetes increases the chances of developing GDM.
  • Previous GDM: If a woman had gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy, she is more likely to develop it again.
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): Women having PCOS are at a higher risk.

Risks to the Unborn Baby and Mother

Gestational diabetes poses risks to both the unborn baby and the mother. For the baby, these risks include:

  1. Macrosomia: Excessive birth weight, which can lead to birth complications.
  2. Hypoglycemia: Low blood sugar levels in the baby after birth.
  3. Respiratory Distress Syndrome: Difficulty in breathing due to underdeveloped lungs.
  4. Jaundice: The skin and eyes turn yellow in colour.

For the mother, GDM can lead to:

  1. Preeclampsia: A condition characterized by high blood pressure and organ damage.
  2. Caesarean Delivery: Increased risk of needing a C-section.
  3. Type 2 Diabetes: A higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

Management and Long-term Follow-up

The management of gestational diabetes primarily focuses on maintaining blood sugar levels within a healthy range. This can often be achieved through lifestyle modifications, including:

  1. Dietary Changes: A balanced diet that controls carbohydrate intake is essential. A registered dietitian can provide guidance.
  2. Regular Exercise: Physical activity can help regulate blood sugar levels. However, it must be done under medical supervision.
  3. Monitoring: Regular blood sugar monitoring at home is necessary to track progress.
  4. Medication: In some cases, insulin or oral medications may be needed to control blood sugar levels.

After delivery, it's crucial for both the mother and the baby to undergo follow-up care. Mothers should continue to monitor their blood sugar levels and maintain a healthy lifestyle to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Babies should be monitored for any signs of complications related to GDM.

Also Read : Learn more about Gestational Diabetes!


Gestational diabetes is a significant health concern in India, affecting a substantial number of pregnant women and their babies. Early screening, identifying risk factors and effective management are essential to ensuring a healthy pregnancy and delivery. Long-term follow-up is equally critical to monitor the health of both mother and child and prevent future complications. By raising awareness and improving prenatal care, we can mitigate the impact of gestational diabetes in India and ensure better health outcomes for mothers and their newborns.

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