Gestational Diabetes Mellitus: Definition & Its Causes

 Gestational diabetes is a serious form of diabetes that can cause severe health problems for both you and your baby. Discover what you need to know to avoid it.

Gestational Diabetes Mellitus Definition & Its Causes

What is Gestational Diabetes Mellitus?

The rise in blood sugar levels in women, particularly during pregnancy, is known as Gestational Diabetes Mellitus, or GDM. Because the blood cells are unable to absorb the glucose in this situation, the blood glucose levels are compelled to rise uncontrollably. Gestational diabetes consequently causes a number of health issues for the expectant mother and her unborn child.

Compared to type-2 diabetes, gestational diabetes is a less severe stage in women. It might be challenging to identify the symptoms of gestational diabetes because pregnancy itself involves a number of symptoms. However, gestational diabetes puts expectant moms at an increased risk of experiencing pregnancy-related problems. Gestational diabetes must therefore be managed and controlled in order to guarantee a safe pregnancy and stress-free birth.

Causes of Gestational Diabetes Mellitus?

One of the main causes of GDM is insulin resistance. During pregnancy, the placenta produces hormones that can cause insulin resistance in the mother’s body. This means that the mother’s body is not able to use insulin effectively to regulate blood sugar levels. As a result, the mother’s blood sugar levels can become too high, leading to GDM.

Other factors that can contribute to the development of GDM include genetics and pre-pregnancy weight. Women who have a family history of diabetes or who are overweight or obese before pregnancy are at a higher risk of developing GDM. This is because excess body fat can make it more difficult for the body to use insulin properly, leading to insulin resistance and high blood sugar levels.

Certain ethnic groups are also at a higher risk of developing GDM, including African American, Hispanic, and Native American women. This is thought to be related to genetic factors and lifestyle factors such as diet and physical activity.

It is important to note that while these factors can increase a woman’s risk of developing GDM, not all women who develop GDM have these risk factors. Therefore, it is important for all pregnant women to be screened for GDM and to receive appropriate treatment if diagnosed.

Symptoms of Gestational Diabetes in Women

Most women with Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM) do not experience any symptoms. This is why screening for GDM is important during pregnancy. However, some women with GDM may experience the following symptoms:

  1. Increased thirst: Women with GDM may feel thirsty more often than usual. This is because high blood sugar levels can cause dehydration.
  2. Frequent urination: GDM can cause an increase in urine output. This is because the kidneys have to work harder to filter excess sugar from the blood.
  3. Fatigue: Women with GDM may feel more tired than usual. This can be due to the body’s inability to use insulin effectively, which can lead to a lack of energy.
  4. Blurred vision: High blood sugar levels can cause changes in vision, making it appear blurry.
  5. Nausea: Some women with GDM may experience nausea or vomiting.

It is important to note that these symptoms can also be caused by other conditions, and not all women with GDM will experience them. Therefore, it is important for pregnant women to be screened for GDM and to receive appropriate treatment if diagnosed. Early detection and management of GDM can help prevent complications for both the mother and the baby.

Types of Gestational Diabetes Mellitus

Based on the course of treatment, gestational diabetes is divided into two categories:

  1. A1GDM, or diet-controlled gestational diabetes, is the type wherein high blood sugar is controlled by making nutritional and lifestyle changes. This type of GDM does not need medications to control blood glucose levels.
  2. A2GDM, or medication-controlled gestational diabetes, is the type wherein medications and medical treatment is needed to balance the sugar levels in pregnant women.

Both types of diabetes are treatable, but if women continue to experience fluctuating blood sugar levels even after adopting lifestyle changes, medicines and insulin injections may be required. As a result, it’s crucial to continuously monitor your blood sugar levels when pregnant.

Tips to Control Gestational Diabetes

Unlike to type-2 diabetes, which requires long-term medication, gestational diabetes therapy comprises simple dietary changes and lifestyle modifications. Here are some recommendations for managing GDM:


Controlling Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM) during pregnancy is important to ensure the health of both the mother and the baby. Here are some tips that can help women with GDM control their blood sugar levels:

  1. Follow a healthy diet: Eating a balanced diet that includes a variety of nutrient-dense foods can help regulate blood sugar levels. This includes foods that are high in fiber, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and foods that are low in saturated fat and added sugars.
  2. Monitor blood sugar levels regularly: Women with GDM should monitor their blood sugar levels regularly, as directed by their healthcare provider. This can help them identify patterns and make adjustments to their diet and medication as needed.
  3. Exercise regularly: Regular physical activity can help improve insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar levels. Women with GDM should aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, such as brisk walking or swimming, most days of the week.
  4. Take medications as prescribed: In some cases, women with GDM may need to take medication to help control their blood sugar levels. It is important to take medications as prescribed by a healthcare provider and to monitor blood sugar levels regularly.
  5. Attend all prenatal appointments: Regular prenatal care is important for monitoring the health of both the mother and the baby. Women with GDM should attend all prenatal appointments and follow the recommendations of their healthcare provider.
  6. Manage stress: Stress can increase blood sugar levels, so it is important for women with GDM to manage stress as much as possible. This can include relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation.


In conclusion, Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM) is a type of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy. The condition is caused by a combination of factors, including insulin resistance, genetics, and pre-pregnancy weight. Women who have a family history of diabetes, are overweight or obese, or belong to certain ethnic groups are at a higher risk of developing GDM.

Although GDM does not always present with symptoms, early detection and management are essential for the health of both the mother and the baby. Women with GDM can take steps to control their blood sugar levels, including following a healthy diet, exercising regularly, monitoring blood sugar levels regularly, taking medications as prescribed, attending all prenatal appointments, and managing stress.

Overall, understanding the definition and causes of GDM can help pregnant women recognize the importance of screening and taking steps to manage the condition. By doing so, they can help ensure the health of themselves and their baby.

Disclaimer: The above-mentioned information is for reference purposes only. Please seek the advice of a qualified medical professional to confirm the details of any health issues.

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