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Gestational Diabetes Affects 18% of Pregnant Women

Almost one out of five (18%) of pregnant women will develop gestational diabetes, or diabetes during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes usually develops between the 24th and 28th week of pregnancy. Unlike other forms of diabetes, gestational diabetes usually goes away after pregnancy. Up to 50 percent of women with gestational diabetes will, however, develop permanent type 2 diabetes within 10 to 15 years.

Doctors don't know exactly what causes gestational diabetes, although they know it's related to changes in hormone balance. The developing placenta, which nourishes the fetus, also produces hormones that are necessary for fetal development. These hormones also interfere with the action of insulin in the mother's body, leading to insulin resistance. Pregnant women may need up to three times as much insulin as non-pregnant women.

Even though gestational diabetes is common, its potential consequences are severe. Gestational diabetes increases the risk of ceasarean section (C-section), preterm delivery, preeclampsia (high blood pressure during pregnancy), and low blood sugar in the infant at birth. Both mother and baby are very high risk of developing type-2 diabetes later in life.