Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that develops in some women during pregnancy, usually toward the end of pregnancy. Like the other types of diabetes, it is characterized by the body's inability to process glucose adequately.
The cause of gestational diabetes is insulin resistance. During pregnancy, a number of hormones are produced which to survive and grow. have a "contra-insulin" effect, blocking the action of insulin. In most women, the pancreas produces enough additional insulin to overcome the resistance. In some, however, the need for extra insulin cannot be met and gestational diabetes occurs. The larger the foetus grows, the more contra-insulin hormones are produced, which explains why gestational diabetes usually occurs in the last third of pregnancy.
Gestational diabetes affects approximately 3 percent to 5 percent of all pregnant women. In most women, the disorder goes away when the pregnancy ends, but women who have had gestational diabetes are at increased risk to eventually develop type 2 diabetes.