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Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes is a condition that occurs during pregnancy. Like other forms of diabetes, gestational diabetes involves a defect in the way the body processes and uses sugars (glucose) in the diet. Gestational diabetes, however, has a number of characteristics that are different from other forms of the disease. In gestational diabetes, the pancreas is not at fault. Instead, the problem is with the placenta. During pregnancy, the placenta provides the fetus with nourishment. It also produces a number of hormones that interfere with the body’s usual response to insulin. This condition is referred to as insulin resistance. Most pregnant women do not suffer from gestational diabetes, because the pancreas works to produce extra quantities of insulin in order to compensate for insulin resistance. However, when a woman’s pancreas cannot produce enough extra insulin, blood levels of glucose stay abnormally high, and the woman is considered to have gestational diabetes.

Internet Resources

MedlinePlus: Diabetes and Pregnancy
Developed by the National Library of Medicine specifically for consumers, this site is a portal for both government-sponsored and privately developed health information for the lay public. It includes links to overviews, research and organizations for people with gestational diabetes.

National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse (NDIC)
The NDIC is a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. This easy-to-read site provides basic information about gestational diabetes and is presented in a clear and understandable manner. Content is available in both English and Spanish.

Mayo Clinic: Gestational Diabetes
The Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit medical practice dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of virtually every type of complex illness. This site provides reliable information on risk factors, symptoms, screening and diagnosis, treatment, and more.


  • Gestational Diabetes During and After Pregnancy. Kim C. 2010
  • Big, Beautiful & Pregnant: Expert Advice and Comforting Wisdom for the Expecting Plus-Size Woman. Van der Ziel, C. 2006.
  • Gestational Diabetes: What to Expect. American Diabetes Association. 2005.

The following resources are available in print at the Health Learning Center or electronically at  http://www.nmh.org/nm/health library virtual library .

  • Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine. Longe JL, ed. 2006.
  • Nutrition and Well-being A to Z. James DCS, ed. 2004.


  • Diagnosis and management of gestational diabetes mellitus. American Family Physician. 80(1):57-62. 2009 July.


  • Gestational Diabetes. 30 min.

This video helps patients understand gestational diabetes and how to keep their blood glucose in a safe and healthy range for the remainder of their pregnancy. Topics include risk factors, home blood glucose and ketone monitoring, healthy food choices, and physical activity. Basic information about labor and delivery are also discussed. Insulin injection is addressed in a separate section at the end of the video.


Call the American Diabetes Association at 1-800-DIABETES (342-2383) Monday through Friday, between 8:30 A.M. and 8:00 P.M. Eastern Standard Time to inquire about resources in your area or arrange a visit to the Alberto Culver Health Learning Center (312.926.5465) to talk one-on-one with a Health Educator.

Contact Us

For more information, please contact the  Alberto Culver Health Learning Center at 312.926.5465, or e-mail us at HLC@nmh.org.

Last UpdateOctober 29, 2012