More Reasons To Cut The Sugar: Latest Findings On Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes, commonly referred to as pregnancy diabetes, is a transient condition wherein all the signs of diabetes type 2 occur, and often resolve on their own post-delivery. However, women experiencing gestational diabetes are asked to cut down on sugars and fats, follow a diabetic diet, to exercise and deal with the condition the same way they would with non-gestational diabetes.

We have known for quite some time that a glucose-laden diet and obesity in pregnant women add up to risk factors for asthma in the offspring. [1]

New research surrounding Gestational Diabetes Mellitus is emerging, bringing more cautionary findings to the fore.

What can gestational diabetes do to a growing fetus?

  • Elevated blood glucose levels in early pregnancy and first trimester are associated with congenital heart defects in the offspring.[2]
  • Women with gestational diabetes may give birth to a child of lower birth weight, and a greater head circumference that usual,[3] thus leading to a need for forceps intervention.
  • Other research, however, contradicts the low-birth-weight phenomenon and suggests that women who have gestational diabetes tend to have overweight children.
  • Babies whose mothers have gestational diabetes often also have a higher production of insulin, resulting in hypoglycemia after birth.
  • Women who have gestational diabetes are at risk for high blood pressure and preeclampsia, a potentially life-threatening complication.[4]

Indian women should know these risk alerts for gestational diabetes and try to avoid them:

  • Some studies claim that warm environments can be a risk factor for the development of gestational diabetes.[5]
  • Smoking, not getting enough exercise, and obesity are in themselves significant risk factors for gestational diabetes. Moreover, women who have had gestational diabetes could develop type 2 diabetes later in life. [6]
  • There is some reason to believe that workplace stress is a contributing factor to type 2 diabetes.[7] The mechanism is not quite clear, but we know that stress leads to weight gain, which in turn can precipitate gestational diabetes.
  • While there is no clear consensus on the actual age threshold, women who have pregnancies later in life or after the age of thirty could be at risk for developing gestational diabetes.

If it often feels like the onus for a healthy baby is put on the mother, you are not alone. If you are upset by a gestational diabetes diagnosis, speak to your doctor. They may be able to recommend a counsellor or a nutritionist to help support you through this phase.

A family that encourages healthy, nutritious meals as part of their TLC during your pregnancy go a long way in managing conditions such as gestational diabetes by helping you battle cravings for foods that can have harmful consequences.


Did you have gestational diabetes? Do you have a pregnancy diabetes story? Write to us at!




  1. Scholtens, Salome, A. H. Wijga, Bert Brunekreef, Marjan Kerkhof, D. S. Postma, Marieke Oldenwening, J. C. De Jongste, and H. A. Smit. “Maternal overweight before pregnancy and asthma in offspring followed for 8 years.” International journal of obesity34, no. 4 (2010): 606-613.
  2. Helle, Emmi, Preston S. Biegley, Joshua W. Knowles, Joseph B. Leader, Sarah A. Pendergrass, Gary Reaven, Marylyn D. Ritchie, Gary M. Shaw, Wei Yang, and James R. Priest. “First Trimester Elevated Serum Glucose Values Are Associated With Congenital Heart Disease in the Offspring.” (2016): A17229-A17229.
  3. Hauta-alus, Helena H., Heli T. Viljakainen, Elisa M. Holmlund-Suila, Maria Enlund-Cerullo, Jenni Rosendahl, Saara M. Valkama, Otto M. Helve, Timo K. Hytinantti, Outi M. Mäkitie, and Sture Andersson. “Maternal vitamin D status, gestational diabetes and infant birth size.” BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth17, no. 1 (2017): 420.
  4. Östlund, Ingrid, Bengt Haglund, and Ulf Hanson. “Gestational diabetes and preeclampsia.”European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology 113, no. 1 (2004): 12-16.
  5. Booth, Gillian L., Jin Luo, Alison L. Park, Denice S. Feig, Rahim Moineddin, and Joel G. Ray. “Influence of environmental temperature on risk of gestational diabetes.” Canadian Medical Association Journal189, no. 19 (2017): E682-E689.
  6. Gestational Diabetes, American Diabetes Association.
  7. Agardh, Emilie E., Anders Ahlbom, Tomas Andersson, Suad Efendic, Valdemar Grill, Johan Hallqvist, Anders Norman, and Claes-Göran Östens “Work stress and low sense of coherence is associated with type 2 diabetes in middle-aged Swedish women.” Diabetes care26, no. 3 (2003): 719-724.


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