How Gestational Diabetes Develops

Posted On: September 25, 2015 By Daniel Saltzman, MD

Women who are pregnant are more likely to develop diabetes due to the normal hormonal changes caused by pregnancy.  Babies need to have sugar available to them to fuel the rapid growth and develop that takes place during pregnancy.  The placenta makes a special hormone that’s not generally present in the non-pregnant state to raise the amount of sugar in the mother’s blood, and make it available to the fetus.  This hormone blocks the action of insulin, the body’s normal mechanism for lowering blood sugar.  Pregnant women need to make more insulin than normally required to balance this process.  About 6‑9% of pregnant women cannot make the extra insulin, and thus become gestational diabetics.

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