• occurs only during pregnancy and usually goes away after the baby is born
  • increases a woman's risk of getting type 2 diabetes later in life
  • may also put children of mothers who had gestational diabetes at risk for obesity, which may increase their risk for developing type 2 diabetes later in life
  • can be managed by eating healthy foods, getting regular physical activity, and if necessary, taking medication

Risk Factors for Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes is more likely in women who:

  • are older than 25 years
  • are overweight
  • had gestational diabetes before
  • gave birth to a baby weighing over 9 pounds
  • have a parent, brother or sister with diabetes
  • had problems in a previous pregnancy (such as stillbirth)
  • are African American, Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, or Native American
  • have polycystic ovary syndrome

More about Gestational Diabetes

All pregnant women should have their risk for diabetes assessed at the first prenatal visit. Women who are at high risk may have a blood glucose level checked at that visit. Women at high risk whose initial test results are normal and all other women with average risk should be checked for GDM between weeks 24 and 28 of pregnancy.

Controlling blood sugar, eating a healthy diet, getting regular physical activity, and taking medications (if needed) are the keys to a healthy pregnancy. Women can also prevent gestational diabetes in future pregnancies by reaching and maintaining a healthy weight, eating healthy foods, and being physically active.

Remember, if you had gestational diabetes when you were pregnant, you have a higher risk for getting type 2 diabetes for the rest of your life. Be sure to talk to your doctor about preventing diabetes, getting tested, and how you and your child can have a healthy lifestyle.

To download our Gestational Diabetes Spanish Poster, visit the Massachusetts Health Promotion Clearinghouse at www.massclearinghouse.ehs.state.ma.us.


  • Easy Eating for Busy People
  • What is Diabetes?
  • Are You At Risk?

These materials are available from the Massachusetts Health Promotion Clearinghouse at www.maclearinghouse.com/category/DIAB.html.

This information is provided by Diabetes Prevention and Control within the Department of Public Health.