Gestational diabetes is associated with an increased risk of adverse outcomes for the mother and child both during pregnancy and birth and in the longer-term.

The AIHW’s Diabetes in pregnancy 2014–15 report found that compared to women with no diabetes, women with gestational diabetes had higher rates of caesarean section, induced labour, pre-existing and gestational hypertension, and pre-eclampsia. Longer antenatal and postnatal stays in hospital were also experienced by these women. The report also found higher rates of complications (pre-term birth, resuscitation, special care nursery/neonatal intensive care unit admission and longer hospital stay) for babies of mothers with gestational diabetes than babies of mothers with no diabetes (AIHW 2019).

Longer-term consequences of gestational diabetes to the mother include a significantly increased risk for the development of type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease. Babies of mothers with gestational diabetes are also at an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and obesity in later life (Kampmann et al. 2015).

For this web report, the National Hospital Morbidity Database (NHMD) has been used to report the short-term complications for women with gestational diabetes during pregnancy and delivery in 2016–17.

In 2016–17, women who gave birth in hospital who were diagnosed with gestational diabetes, experienced a number of differences in pregnancy and birth outcomes compared to women with no diabetes—even after adjusting for differences in the age structure of the populations.

Pregnancy outcomes

During pregnancy, women with gestational diabetes were more likely than women with no diabetes to:

  • be diagnosed with pre-eclampsia (4.2% compared with 2.8%)
  • be diagnosed with pre-existing hypertension (1.4% compared with 0.5%)
  • be diagnosed with gestational hypertension (4.2% compared with 2.9%)
  • receive maternal care for excessive fetal growth (6.2% compared with 2.7%) (Figure 6).

Labour and delivery outcomes

During labour and delivery, women with gestational diabetes were more likely than women with no diabetes to experience:

  • Induced labour (43% compared with 30%)
  • Caesarean section (elective and emergency) (44% compared with 37%)
  • Pre-term labour and delivery (9.3% compared with 7.5%)
  • Failed induction of labour (2.5% compared with 1.4%) (Figure 7).


AIHW (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare) 2019. Diabetes in pregnancy 2014–2015. Bulletin no. 146. Cat. no. CDK 7. Canberra: AIHW.

Kampmann U, Madsen LR, Skajaa GO, Iversen DS, Moeller N & Ovesen P 2015. Gestational diabetes: a clinical update. World Journal of Diabetes 6:1065–72.