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Preventing gestational diabetes

Gestational diabetes can be prevented in some cases, but not every time.

Gestational diabetes is a particular type of diabetes that only happens during pregnancy and affects around 4% of mums-to-be.

The body becomes more resistant to insulin because of hormone changes due to being pregnant.

This can allow blood sugar (glucose) levels to become too high, which can affect the health of the woman and her growing baby.

To understand how to help prevent gestational diabetes, you need to know what increases your risk.

Some proven risk factors include having a family history of diabetes, or having an ethnic origin such as South Asian, black Caribbean or Middle Eastern.

There is also an increased risk for women who had an earlier baby weighing 4.5kg (10lbs) or more at birth, or who had gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy.

These risks cannot be influenced.

However, the final main risk factor is a woman's weight and body shape before becoming pregnant.

Having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more before pregnancy increases the risk of gestational diabetes.

This is a risk factor you can influence. Getting to and maintaining a healthy weight before becoming pregnant can help prevent gestational diabetes.

If your BMI is over 30, talk to your GP about getting to a healthy weight in a steady and sustainable way.

Losing weight is down to a combination of what you eat and drink, and the amount of exercise you take.

WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on November 25, 2015

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