Gestational diabetes mellitus, or GDM, is a form of diabetes that affects pregnant people. According to the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (1), GDM is defined as any degree of glucose intolerance that is not clearly pre-existing diabetes. Having GDM can increase the risk of high blood glucose levels in your new-born, macrosomia (large for gestational age babies), needing a caesarean section and preeclampsia. Because of this, managing your gestational diabetes is important if you are of the 18% of people diagnosed with it.
Due to changing hormone levels, insulin resistance increases in later pregnancy. Not everyone is able to compensate for this increase, which can lead to GDM. Pre-existing conditions such as PCOS, having macrosomia in a previous pregnancy, a family history of diabetes or being from certain ethnic backgrounds can increase your risk of GDM (2).
A study looking at preventing GDM had participants following healthy eating advice and aiming to exercise for 30 minutes for 5 days per week if they were either planning a pregnancy or less than 20 weeks pregnant (3). Results are still ongoing but suggest that these interventions may help to reduce the risk of developing GDM.
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This post is an excerpt from a guest post that I wrote for the Rhitrition blog.