What is gestational diabetes?
During pregnancy, some mothers develop diabetes (high blood
sugar). This type of diabetes is called gestational diabetes.
What causes gestational diabetes?
Pregnancy causes many changes in the body.
In some women, these changes make it hard
for the body to produce enough insulin to use
all the sugar ingested.
Insulin helps control blood sugar.
Without enough insulin, blood sugar levels
go up (hyperglycemia). When the levels get
too high, the woman has diabetes

How can gestational diabetes affect my baby?
Babies born to mothers with gestational diabetes
are often premature and/or large for their
gestational age. These babies are also at higher
risk for certain health problems.
Low blood sugar
When the mother has gestational diabetes,
the unborn baby is exposed to high blood sugar
levels. As a result, the baby makes extra insulin
to keep his/her own blood sugar under control.
After birth, the baby is no longer exposed to the
mother’s blood. If the baby continues to make extra
insulin, it may push his/her blood sugar levels too
low (hypoglycemia).
Very low blood sugar can cause seizures, which can result in long-term delays in development.
Feeding the baby will often return blood sugar levels to normal. If needed, the healthcare
team can also give the baby a sugar (glucose) solution through a vein.

How can gestational diabetes affect my baby? (continued)
Type 2 Diabetes
When the mother has gestational diabetes, the baby
has a higher risk of being obese and developing type 2
diabetes later in life. You can lower that risk by helping
your child make healthy choices while growing up. These
choices include eating right, being physically active, and
maintaining a healthy weight

Jaundice
Babies with a yellowish color to their skin and the whites of
their eyes are said to have jaundice. In most cases, jaundice
is short-term and causes no lasting problems.
Respiratory Distress Syndrome
Babies with respiratory distress syndrome (RDS) have
to work hard to breathe. They may need help to get
enough oxygen.
Other Health Problems
Gestational diabetes can affect any organ. A few babies
may have heart or other problems. Your health care team
will keep you up-to-date on your baby’s health.

What will happen next?
Most babies will respond well to the correct treatment.
But every baby is different. The health care team will talk
with you about what is best for your baby

Glossary
Diabetes – disease in which
blood sugar levels are too high
Gestational – during pregnancy
Glucose – a type of sugar the
body uses for energy
Hyperglycemia – too much sugar
in the blood
Hypoglycemia – too little sugar
in the blood
Insulin – hormone that helps
control blood sugar levels

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