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How can I know if I am at risk for gestational diabetes?

To learn about your risk for gestational diabetes, select the items that apply to you. At your first prenatal visit, talk with your doctor about your risk.

I have a parent, brother, or sister with diabetes. I am an African American, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic/Latino, or Pacific Islander. I am 25 years old or older. I am overweight. I have had gestational diabetes before or I have given birth to at least one baby weighing more than 9 lb. I have been told that I have prediabetes, a condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not yet high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes. Other names for it are "impaired glucose tolerance" and "impaired fasting glucose."

If you selected any of these risk factors, ask your health care team about testing you for gestational diabetes.

You are at high risk if you are very overweight, have had gestational diabetes before, have a strong family history of diabetes, or have glucose in your urine. You are at average risk if you selected one or more of the risk factors above. You are at low risk if you did not select any of the risk factors above.

This answer is based on source information from National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
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.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.