What is gestational diabetes?
Gestational diabetes is characterised by glucose intolerance of varying severity, which develops or is first recognised during pregnancy, mostly in the second or third trimester (Nankervis & Conn 2013).
Gestational diabetes is an important health issue associated with pregnancy which has implications for the immediate and longer term health of both the mother and baby. It usually resolves after the baby is born, but can often recur in later pregnancies and, among other adverse outcomes, increases the risk of type 2 diabetes for the mother and baby in the future.
Often women are able to manage their gestational diabetes with lifestyle modifications including diet, exercise and careful blood glucose monitoring. If blood glucose levels cannot be maintained in the optimum range, then medication may be required including oral hypoglycaemic (blood glucose-lowering) medications, insulin therapy, or both.
A definitive diagnosis of diabetes type cannot be made until after the birth of the baby, hence the initial diagnosis of gestational diabetes can include women with other forms of diabetes, detected for the first time in pregnancy (Nankervis et al. 2014).
Nankervis A & Conn J 2013. Gestational diabetes mellitus: negotiating the confusion. Australian Family Physician 42:528–31.
Nankervis A, Mclntyre H, Moses R, Ross G, Callaway L, Porter C et al. 2014. ADIPS consensus guidelines for the testing and diagnosis of gestational diabetes mellitus in Australia. Sydney: Australasian Diabetes in Pregnancy Society.