Gestational Diabetes Causes

Researchers do not yet fully understand or know exactly why some pregnancies develop gestational diabetes or all the factors involved with gestational diabetes causes.

In order for you to have a better understanding of how gestational diabetes occurs, it is necessary to have a basic understanding of how glucose is normally processed in the body.

Insulin is a hormone produced by your pancreas. When you eat, your digestive system breaks down the food into glucose and other nutrients.
The glucose (a simple sugar) enters your bloodstream. Insulin helps glucose move from your bloodstream into cells in your body where it will be used for energy.

During pregnancy, the placenta that surrounds your growing baby produces high levels of a variety of hormones. Almost all of them interfere with the action of insulin on the cells, resulting in raised blood sugar levels.
A modest elevation of blood sugar after meals is normal during pregnancy.

As your baby grows, the placenta produces more and more insulin-impairing hormones. In gestational diabetes, the placental hormones interfere so much that the increase in blood sugar is at such a level that it can affect the growth and development of your baby.

Gestational diabetes usually develops during the latter half of pregnancy, it could be (though rarely) as early as week 20, but mostly only later in the pregnancy.

Risk Factors for Developing Gestational Diabetes.

Any pregnant woman can develop gestational diabetes, though some are at greater risk than others.
The risk factors linked to gestational diabetes causes are:


  • If you are older than age 25, then you are more likely to develop gestational diabetes.
  • The higher the age, the higher the risk.

Family history of diabetes

  • If a close family member, (parent or sibling) has type 2 diabetes.
  • Strong family history of gestational diabetes (mother, grandmother or sister had it).

Personal Health history

  • If you have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
  • You have previously given birth to a large baby (weighing over 4.5kg/9lb 14).
  • You have previously had an unexplained stillbirth.
  • You are also more likely to develop gestational diabetes if you had it during a previous pregnancy.
  • You have prediabetes, a condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not yet high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes.
  • Your risk of developing gestational diabetes increases if you have prediabetes.
  • Diagnosed with Impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glucose.
  • Glucose detected in your urine.

Overweight or Obese prior to pregnancy

  • A body mass index (BMI) of 30 and higher, puts at greater risk of developing gestational diabetes.
  • If you are significantly, overweight.
  • If you are obese.


  • If you are a smoker.
  • Being around smokers more than average.


  • In the USA, women who are black, Hispanic, American Indian, Pacific Islander or Asian are more likely to develop gestational diabetes.


Most of the risks for gestational diabetes can be avoided by living a healthy lifestyle.

Healthy eating coupled with regular exercise, while maintaining your ideal weight will reduce your chance of developing diabetes tremendously.

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