Motherhood is hard work. Diabetes is too.

Learn how to navigate the challenges of motherhood while managing your diabetes with confidence.

04 April 2023

Diabetes can begin during pregnancy and is a common complication. Every year, 2-10% of pregnancies in the US are affected by gestational diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This National Diabetes Awareness Month, we give the spotlight to moms and moms-to-be wherever they are – at home, at work, in the military – and support their awareness of diabetes during pregnancy and how it increases risks of developing this chronic disease later in life for both mother and baby.

We salute you!

Show moms and moms-to-be some love by learning more about gestational diabetes and telling her you appreciate how hard she works for those she loves and serves, especially if she is in the military.

Gestational Diabetes

Diabetes first diagnosed during pregnancy is called gestational diabetes. It is the leading cause of high blood sugar and a common complication associated with pregnancy. While gestational diabetes often goes away after delivery, it can still have a significant impact on mother and baby immediately and later in life

Over the last 30 years, the prevalence of gestational diabetes has increased.[1]
2-10% of pregnancies annually are affected by gestational diabetes.[2]
Gestational diabetes doubled among women in the active and reserve component and among female Military Health Service dependents.[3]
Illustration of women affected by gestational diabetes
About 50% of women with gestational diabetes develop type 2 diabetes later in life.[2]
African American & Hispanic women are at <2x the risk.[2]
Risk factors of gestational diabetes[4]: Older maternal age, Overweight and obesity, first-degree relative with diabetes, & Hypertension/high cholesterol
Risk of complications if untreated: Pre-eclampsia[5], large babies[2], & babies born prematurely[2]
Healthy habits help lower risk of gestational diabetes[4]

Healthy foods icon

Eat healthy foods. Choose foods high in fiber and low in fat and calories.

Keep active icon

Keep active. Moderate activity before and during pregnancy for 30 minutes everyday.

Healthy weight icon

Keep a healthy weight before and during pregnancy.

If you're pregnant, or considering becoming pregnant, talk to your doctor about gestational diabetes risks, regular blood sugar checks and recommendations for a healthy eating and exercise.

Answers from the doctor

Enrico Repetto, MD, Medical Director at Roche Diabetes Care answers frequently asked questions about gestational diabetes:

"Gestational diabetes occurs when pregnancy hormones and weight gain block a woman’s body's ability to use insulin properly thus causing the increase of blood glucose.”

“Yes, gestational diabetes is on the rise among women.1 Even among active service women in the Military Health System, rates of gestational diabetes have doubled in the last 10 years.2 In the U.S., Native Americans, Asians, Hispanics, and African-American women are also at higher risk”

“This could be due to women getting pregnant later, beginning pregnancy overweight and decreasing physical activity.”

“Pregnant women without known diabetes mellitus should be screened for gestational diabetes after 24 weeks.”

“Fasting and postprandial self-monitoring of blood glucose are recommended in pregnancy to achieve the following glucose levels targets – fasting < 95 mg/dL and 2h postprandial < 120 mg/dL.”

“Treatment of gestational diabetes significantly reduces the incidence of health complications such as spontaneous abortion, increase of blood pressure, excessive birthrate and pre-term birth.”

“While gestational diabetes often goes away after delivery, more than 50% of women with gestational diabetes are at high risk of subsequently developing diabetes.3 Women with gestational diabetes should be screened 6 to 12 weeks postpartum to check if there is persistently abnormal glucose. Babies of moms with gestational diabetes are also at increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes.4”

“Women who are already expecting can help prevent and control gestational diabetes by eating healthy foods and staying active. Pregnant women should talk to their doctors about their risks, get blood sugar checks and follow recommendations. For women thinking about becoming pregnant, starting pregnancy at a healthy weight helps, It is also a good idea to ask the doctor what a reasonable amount of weight gain during pregnancy is appropriate.”

  1. Lavery JA, Friedman AM, Keyes KM, Wright JD, Ananth CV. Gestational diabetes in the United States: temporal changes in prevalence rates between 1979 and 2010. BJOG. 2017;124(5):804-813. doi:10.1111/1471-0528.14236 Accessed November 17, 2023.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Gestational Diabetes. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/gestational.html Accessed November 17, 2023. 
  3. Williams Valerie F. et. al, Diabetes Mellitus and Gestational Diabetes, Active and Reserve Component Service Members and Dependents, 2008–2018; https://www.health.mil/Reference-Center/Reports/2020/02/01/Medical-Surveillance-Monthly-Report-Volume-27-Number-2 Accessed November 17, 2023. 
  4. Mayo Clinic. Gestational Diabetes. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/gestational-diabetes/symptoms-causes/syc-20355339 Accessed November 17, 2023.
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Gestational Diabetes and Pregnancy. https://www.cdc.gov/pregnancy/diabetes-gestational.html Accessed November 17, 2023.
  6. Bower JK, Butler BN, Bose-Brill S, Kue J, Wassel CL. Racial/Ethnic Differences in Diabetes Screening and Hyperglycemia Among US Women After Gestational Diabetes. Prev Chronic Dis 2019;16:190144. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5888/pcd16.190144. Accessed November 17, 2023.
  7. Li G, Wei T, Ni W, Zhang A, Zhang J, Xing Y, Xing Q. Incidence and Risk Factors of Gestational Diabetes Mellitus: A Prospective Cohort Study in Qingdao, China. Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2020 Sep 11;11:636. doi: 10.3389/fendo.2020.00636. PMID: 33042010; PMCID: PMC7516372. Accessed December 7, 2023.