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Gestational diabetes (or gestational diabetes mellitus, GDM) is a type of diabetes which affects pregnant women who were not known to have diabetes before. It affects 3-10% of pregnancies, depending on the ethnic background. There is no known specific cause, but it's believed that the hormones produced during pregnancy reduce a woman's receptivity to insulin resulting in high blood sugar.
Gestational diabetes mellitus generally has few symptoms, so many countries have adopted some form of maternal screening. Diagnostic tests rely on high levels of glucose detected in blood samples.
Babies born to mothers with GDM are at increased risk of complications, mainly from growth abnormalities and chemical imbalances such as low blood sugar. GDM is a reversible condition, in the way that women who have adequate control of glucose levels can effectively decrease the associated risks and give birth to healthy babies.
Women with GDM are at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes mellitus after pregnancy, while their offspring is prone to develop childhood obesity with Type 2 diabetes later in life. Most women will be treated only with diet modifications and moderate exercise but some will go on to anti-diabetic drugs (including therapy with insulin).
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