Risk Factors for Gestational Diabetes

A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of getting a disease or condition.

It is possible to develop gestational diabetes with or without the risk factors listed below. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your likelihood of developing gestational diabetes. If you have a number of risk factors, ask your doctor what you can do to reduce your risk.

Risk factors for gestational diabetes include:

Obesity or Being Overweight

Studies in both the American Journal of Public Health and Journal of the American Medical Association found that women with a body mass index (BMI—the ratio of your weight in kilograms to your height in meters squared) of 25.0 to 29.9 (classified as overweight) were at an increased risk of gestational diabetes. When BMI was 30 and above (classified as obese), the risk rose even more substantially.

Gestational Diabetes in a Previous Pregnancy

According to a study published in 2001 in the Journal of the American Medical Association , the risk of gestational diabetes recurring in subsequent pregnancies is reported to be 60%-90%, depending on the woman’s first trimester weight in those pregnancies.

Age: Older than 25

Gestational diabetes is more common in pregnant women who are older than 25 years of age.

Family History of Diabetes

If you have a first-degree relative—this includes parents, brothers, or sisters—with diabetes, your risk of gestational diabetes is increased.

Race

Hispanic Americans, African Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans, Indigenous Australians, and Pacific Islanders are at an increased risk of developing gestational diabetes.

Previous Delivery of a Large Baby

Fetal macrosomia is defined as having a baby with a birth weight greater than the 90th percentile for gestational age and sex. If you delivered a baby with fetal macrosomia, you are at increased risk of gestational diabetes in future pregnancies.

A Woman With Gestational Diabetes

© 2008 Nucleus Medical Art, Inc.

Other Important Risk Factors

  • Previous history of glucose intolerance
  • Previous history of polycystic ovary disease
  • Previous history of type 1 or type 2 diabetes mellitus
  • Previous history of breastfeeding
  • Rapid weight gain during pregnancy

Other Factors Related to Childbirth

If you experience any of the following factors, your risk of developing gestational diabetes is increased:

  • Previous stillbirth
  • Having a child with a birth defect
  • Too much amniotic fluid surrounding a baby during pregnancy

References:

American Diabetes Association website. Available at: http://www.diabetes.org/home.jsp .

American Journal of Public Health website. Available at: http://www.ajph.org/ .

Journal of the American Medical Association website. Available at: http://jama.ama-assn.org/ .

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development website. Available at: http://www.nichd.nih.gov/ .

Taylor JS, Kacmar JE, Nothnagle M, Lawrence RA. A systematic review of the literature associating breastfeeding with type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes. J Am Coll Nutr. 2005;24:320-326.



Last reviewed June 2008 by David Juan, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.


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