What Causes Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM)?

Dr. Mani Deepthi Dasari
MBBS, MD, DM (Endocrinology)

Before answering “How do you get gestational diabetes,” let me tell you what is gestational diabetes.

causes of gestational diabetes

Gestational diabetes is nothing but glucose intolerance (a collective term for metabolic conditions that result in higher than normal blood glucose levels) with onset or first recognization during pregnancy.

  • As we all know, the fetus depends on the mother for nutrients and energy.
  • For developing a fetus, the mother provides macronutrients and micronutrients, including glucose.
  • There is a physiological increase in hormones (estrogen, placental growth hormone and placental lactogen) to fulfill this demand.
  • As a result, blood glucose is increased and transported through the placenta for the fetus’s growth.
  • To counter the rise in blood glucose body produce excess insulin. But this won’t happen in gestational diabetes.
  • The body cannot produce enough insulin, or there can be a defect in its action.
  • Causes being a genetic defect to produce insulin or at the most time, it is due to defective action, which are increased by environmental factors like obesity.

Risk factors for Gestational Diabetes Mellitus

  • Increasing age > 25yrs
  • Obesity,
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Nonwhite race,
  • Polycystic ovarian disease/ syndrome (PCOD/ PCOS)
  • Family history of diabetes
  • Previous child with birth weight more than 4kg
  • High blood pressure
  • Gaining too much weight in pregnancy