Diabetes Forecast

Diabetes and Pregnancy: Terms to Know

By Barbara Brody , , ,

Photography by Jessica Dean; art direction and styling by Haleigh Eason

Gestational diabetes refers to diabetes that appears during pregnancy and usually disappears after you give birth (though it raises your risk for type 2 later in life). Some other important distinctions between that condition and preexisting type 1 or type 2 diabetes:


Preexisting diabetes: You’ll need to see an endocrinologist and maternal-fetal medicine specialist (perinatologist), possibly in addition to a regular ob-gyn.

Gestational: Because it’s so common, your regular ob-gyn may be comfortable monitoring you.


Preexisting diabetes: If your blood glucose isn’t well managed very early in pregnancy, your baby is at risk for major malformations. You face higher risks, too, including low blood glucose, preeclampsia (a late-pregnancy complication that’s associated with very high blood pressure and organ damage), and diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA).

Gestational: Your child isn’t at risk for major malformations because the condition doesn’t develop until the second or third trimester, after the baby’s major organs have been formed. You face some risks, including preeclampsia, but the danger isn’t as great as in women with preexisting diabetes.


Preexisting diabetes: Medication is required, usually insulin.

Gestational: The condition can often be managed with lifestyle changes, but it may require insulin.

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