Gestational diabetes

Gestational diabetes mellitus, also known as GDM, occurs during pregnancy. It usually goes away when the baby is born, but there is a high risk that the mother may develop type 2 diabetes in the 10-15 years following birth [22970].

During pregnancy, the placenta produces hormones that help the baby grow and develop. These hormones also block the action of the mother’s insulin. This is called insulin resistance. Because of this insulin resistance, the need for insulin in pregnancy is two to three times higher than normal. If you already have insulin resistance, then your body may not be able to cope with the extra demand for insulin production and the blood glucose (sugar) levels will rise, resulting in gestational diabetes being diagnosed [25838].

GDM can often be managed with healthy eating and regular physical activity. However, for some women, insulin injections may be necessary for the rest of their pregnancy.

GDM is the fastest growing type of diabetes in Australia. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are at a higher risk of developing gestational diabetes than non-Indigenous women, particularly those who have a family history of GDM.

The National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS) has resources and information about GDM and the gestational diabetes register.


Key resources

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Janganpa Jukurrpa (Brush-tailed Possum Dreaming) by Phyllis Napurrurla Williams

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