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Gestational Diabetes

Causes of Gestational Diabetes

As with all forms of diabetes, doctors do not fully understand the causes of gestational diabetes. Between 3 and 8% of pregnant women will be diagnosed with  gestational diabetes.
Through research and clinical trials, doctors have determined some theories as to what causes gestational diabetes. Doctors believe the hormones (estrogen, cortisol and human placental lactogen) reduce the effect of insulin. This is called the contra-insulin effect.
These hormones are present in growing levels during pregnancy. By 24-28 weeks, the hormones block enough of the insulin to overcome the amount of insulin that can be produced by the pancreas. The cells do not absorb the sugar from the bloodstream. This causes high blood sugar and gestational diabetes. When the pregnancy hormones are gone, so are the elevated sugars. The condition resolves after labor.
While doctors do not know how to prevent the condition, they have pinpointed these risk factors:
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes family history
  • Previous birth of an infant weighing over nine pounds
  • Being older than 25
  • Race- African-Americans, American Indians, Asian Americans, Hispanic/Latinos and Pacific Islanders have a higher risk.
  • Pre-diabetes before pregnancy

Locations for Gestational Diabetes