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Gestational Diabetes: Risks May Not End After Pregnancy

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risks from gestational diabetes may extend past pregnancy Purestock/Thinkstock

This month, motherhood has been a topic for discussion. In a recent article, we learned that the health of mother and baby are sometimes shared.

This is why it’s so important to use preventative care, and get an early start making healthy choices.

One of the first health issues that a mother and child may go through together is gestational diabetes, which, according to studies, is on the rise.

According to the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP), gestational diabetes can affect 7-18 percent of pregnancies in the United States.

Because risks for mother and child may continue even after birth, it’s important to understand the how, what and why.

Let’s start with the what:

Gestational diabetes means that your blood glucose (sugar) is too high. And although glucose is necessary energy for mother and child, too much can be harmful.


Although changing hormones and weight gain are part of a healthy pregnancy, these changes make it harder for your body’s insulin to do its job. When that happens, glucose levels may increase in your blood, leading to gestational diabetes.


Gestational diabetes comes with complications for mother and baby.

It may increase a mother’s risk of high blood pressure during pregnancy as well as the need for cesarean section delivery.

Untreated or uncontrolled gestational diabetes can cause the birth of an overly large baby with excess fat, which can make delivery both difficult and dangerous.

Babies may also experience breathing problems in addition to low blood glucose right after birth.

Can effects continue later in life?

According to Joanne M. Gallivan, M.S., R.D., Director of the National Diabetes Education Program, they can.

“Even though gestational diabetes is, by definition, diabetes diagnosed during pregnancy, sometimes diabetes doesn’t go away after delivery. Even if glucose returns to normal after pregnancy, a history of gestational diabetes has a lifelong impact on the mother’s risk for developing diabetes.”

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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