The following contribute to risk for gestational diabetes:
- Genes and Family History
Family history plays a role in gestational diabetes: women with a parent or sibling with diabetes are more likely to have gestational diabetes. Scientists suspect that gestational diabetes is more like type 2 than type 1 diabetes. For this reason, they think that similar genes are involved in both gestational and type 2 diabetes. However, there have been very few studies on the genes specifically involved in gestational diabetes, and there is no genetic test to detect gestational diabetes.
- Race and Ethnicity
Women who are Hispanic, American Indian, Asian, or African American are more likely to have gestational diabetes than non-Hispanic white women.
- Obesity and Age
Just like type 2 diabetes, obesity and age are risk factors for developing gestational diabetes. Women who are 25 years old or older or overweight are more likely to have it. Obesity contributes to insulin resistance and negatively affects the body’s ability to use insulin properly.
During pregnancy, your body produces lots of hormones in an organ called the placenta. The placenta is also the organ that nourishes the growing baby. These extra hormones are important for the baby’s growth. However, some of these hormones also block insulin’s action in the mother’s body, causing resistance to insulin. All pregnant women—with or without gestational diabetes—have some degree of insulin resistance. Pregnant women already experience some insulin resistance, so any added resistance through excess weight can put you at higher risk for diabetes.