Diabetes that develops during pregnancy is called gestational diabetes. Though the actual cause of this type of diabetes is unknown, scientists believe that hormones that help a baby develop also restrict insulin's activity in the mother's body. The result is insulin resistance. Left untreated, the mother's blood glucose levels could rise too high, causing potential problems for the baby (such as heavy birth weight and a future risk for type 2 diabetes) and complications for the mother, including preeclampsia and the necessity for a Cesarean section. Treatment for gestational diabetes may include meal planning, regular exercise, blood glucose testing, and insulin injections.
About 4 percent of all pregnant women acquire gestational diabetes. The good news: it typically goes away after the baby is delivered. However, women who have had gestational diabetes are at an increased risk for the disease in future pregnancies as well as a greater risk for type 2 diabetes. Some women develop type 1 or type 2 diabetes post-pregnancy. Some symptoms of gestational diabetes are excess thirst, frequent urination, blurry vision, exhaustion, extreme hunger, and weight loss. In many cases, there may be no symptoms at all, which is why it's important for at-risk women to be tested at the proper time during pregnancy. Risk factors for the disease include being overweight prior to pregnancy, having had gestational diabetes in a prior pregnancy, and having a family history of diabetes.