About 3 percent to 5 percent of pregnant women who have never had elevated blood glucose levels may develop gestational diabetes, a form of diabetes that occurs only during their pregnancy. As a part of prenatal care, pregnant women should be screened for gestational diabetes between he 24th and 28th weeks of pregnancy. Many women who had gestational diabetes also eventually develop type 2 diabetes. Babies born to mothers who had gestational diabetes during their pregnancy have a condition called macrosomia, which risks damage to their shoulders during birth. Such newborns may have very low blood glucose levels at birth. They are also at higher risk of developing breathing problems, obesity, and type II diabetes as adults.
Here are the risk factors on developing gestational diabetes:
- History of diabetes in a first-degree relative. The risk is more than 1.5 times greater than in women without a history.
- Weight gain in early adulthood. A high BMI at age 18 greatly increases the risk.
- High body mass index (BMI) before pregnancy. A pre-pregnancy BMI of 25 to 29.9 doubles the risk. The risk triplets with BMI of 30 or more.
- Advancing age. Women older than 40 are more than twice as likely to develop it as women ages 25 to 29.
- Nonwhite ethnicity. The risk is 1.45 times greater for Hispanics, 1.75 times greater for African Americans and 2.32 times greater for Asians
- Previously having a stillbirth of unknown cause.
- Previously bearing a child who weighed more than nine pounds.
- Cigarette smoking.