Gestational diabetes

Last update: 07/01/2020
  • Atlas 8e complications image GDMGestational diabetes is associated with multiple adverse pregnancy outcomes.
  • Women with gestational diabetes are at subsequent high risk of type 2 diabetes, especially three to six years after delivery.
  • Exposure to hyperglycaemia in the womb predisposes children to a high risk of becoming overweight or obese, associated with the development of type 2 diabetes.

Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is a severe and neglected threat to maternal and child health. Many women with GDM experience pregnancy-related complications including high blood pressure, large birth weight babies and obstructed labour. Approximately half of women with a history of GDM go on to develop type 2 diabetes within five to ten years after delivery.

The prevalence of high blood glucose (hyperglycaemia) in pregnancy increases rapidly with age and is highest in women over the age of 45. 

In 20191:

  • There were an estimated 223 million women (20-79 years) living with diabetes. This number is projected to increase to 343 million by 2045.
  • 20 million or 16% of live births had some form of hyperglycaemia in pregnancy. An estimated 84% were due to gestational diabetes.
  • 1 in 6 births was affected by gestational diabetes.
  • The vast majority of cases of hyperglycaemia in pregnancy were in low- and middle-income countries, where access to maternal care is often limited.

It is important for women with diabetes in pregnancy or GDM to carefully control and monitor their blood glucose levels to reduce the risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes with the support of their healthcare provider.

1. International Diabetes Federation. IDF Diabetes Atlas, 9th edn. Brussels, Belgium: International Diabetes Federation, 2019.

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