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High blood sugar that is first discovered during pregnancy

Gestational diabetes refers to high blood sugar that is first discovered during pregnancy.

High blood sugar which is first discovered during pregnancy is called gestational diabetes. In addition to actual gestational diabetes, high blood sugar detected for the first time during pregnancy could also be undiagnosed type 2 diabetes, emerging type 1 diabetes, or MODY diabetes.

During pregnancy, the body needs more insulin due to pregnancy hormones and weight gain. Gestational diabetes is diagnosed by a glucose tolerance test with lower limit values compared to a normal glucose tolerance test. In 2019, gestational diabetes was discovered in nearly 20 percent, or one in five, of pregnant women.

If the blood sugar level is high during pregnancy, it may have an adverse effect both on the child and the mother during the pregnancy and later in life. The goal is to keep the blood sugar level as normal as possible during the pregnancy. In addition to a healthy diet and exercise, in some cases it is necessary to take tablets or insulin to lower the blood sugar level.

Gestational diabetes is mainly managed with healthy eating and exercise. The target in blood sugar self-measurements is below 5.5 mmol/l before meals and below 7.8 mmol/l after meals. However, in approximately 20 percent of cases, medication, i.e. metformin tablets or insulin injections, is required to keep the blood sugar level within these levels.

The discovery, management and monitoring of gestational diabetes are discussed in detail in Health Village’s Womenhub (in Finnish).

    In gestational diabetes, the blood sugar level returns back to normal after labour. If gestational diabetes requires medication, the next glucose tolerance test is conducted within three months of labour. Otherwise, the glucose tolerance test is done 12 months after labour and then every 1–3 years, depending. Weight, blood pressure and, if necessary, blood fat levels are monitored simultaneously.

    In more than half of the gestational diabetes cases, there is a risk of being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes within the next 10–15 years. It is important to shed any extra weight that was gained during the pregnancy, returning to normal weight and living a healthy lifestyle. Losing just 3–4 kg significantly reduces the risk of diabetes.

    Updated 30.9.2023