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What causes gestational diabetes?

Changing hormones and weight gain are part of a healthy pregnancy. But both changes make it hard for your body to keep up with its need for a hormone called insulin. When that happens, your body doesn’t get the energy it needs from the food you eat.

What is my risk of gestational diabetes?

To learn your risk for gestational diabetes, check each item that applies to you. Talk with your doctor about your risk at your first prenatal visit.

◦ I have a parent, brother, or sister with diabetes.

◦ I am 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 pounds.

◦ I have been told that I have “pre-diabetes,” 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 checked any of these risk factors, ask your health care team about testing 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 checked one or more of the risk factors.

• You are at low risk if you did not check any of the risk factors.

When will I be checked for gestational diabetes?

Your doctor will decide when you need to be checked for diabetes depending on your risk factors.

• If you are at high risk, your blood glucose level may be checked at your first prenatal visit. If your test results are normal, you will be checked again sometime between weeks 24 and 28 of your pregnancy.

• If you have an average risk for gestational diabetes, you will be tested sometime between weeks 24 and 28 of pregnancy.

• If you are at low risk, your doctor may decide that you do not need to be checked.

How is gestational diabetes diagnosed?

Your health care team will check your blood glucose level. Depending on your risk and your test results, you may have one or more of the following tests.

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