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What are the Side Effects of Gestational Diabetes

Updated at: May 01, 2013
Written by: Arka Roy ChowdhuryPublished at: May 01, 2013
What are the Side Effects of Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes can be very dangerous for a woman and her baby, especially because there can be long lasting side effects. Understand and know what these side effects are, so as to be prepared.

Side Effects of Gestational Diabetes

What we call gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that a woman may develop during her pregnancy. As it is with typical diabetes cases, here too the blood sugar levels shoot abnormally high, and this puts mother and the baby at the risk of some serious side effects. These problems related to gestational diabetes have been found to resolve after delivery. However, there may be a possibility of a complicated delivery and long term effects in some cases.

[Read:Complications with Gestational Diabetes]


The baby’s blood stream can be loaded with excess sugar during gestational diabetes, thus forcing the unborn baby’s pancreas to produce excess of insulin in order to process sugar. This as you can understand is not good for the yet to born child, and causes the baby to gain extra weight. This condition is known as macrosomia. Macrosomic babies as they are called, can cause problems during delivery, this is precisely due to their size. At times the infant’s shoulder may be too large for the baby to get delivered, and thus it may get stuck. This sort of a situation is called dystocia and requires special procedures for the child’s delivery. Then of course in normal cases where the child is too large to enter the birth canal a caesarian section is performed. The challenges of delivering a macrosomic baby can also lead to vaginal injuries and an unusually large episiotomy for the mother.

[Read: Causes for Macrosomia]


The women who have gestational diabetes have been found to be twice as likely to develop pre-eclampsia, which is a condition where a woman develops high blood pressure and protein in the urine. This condition makes the blood vessels to restrict and thus reduce the blood flow to the vital organs. This then creates a potentially dangerous situation for both the mother and the baby, and the only cure to this is to deliver the baby.

[Read: Prevent Pre-Eclampsia in Pregnancy]

Post Delivery

There is a possibility of post delivery side effects in mothers with gestational diabetes; they may develop low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia) immediately after giving birth. This happens because the baby’s body is still producing the extra insulin needed to process the extra sugar which was in his blood in utero. For more serious cases of hypoglycemia you can require intravenous glucose administration or this condition can cause seizures.

Also, after delivery the baby can develop polycythemia, which is an increase in the number of the red blood cells, hypocalcemia, which is low calcium in the blood or even jaundice, which is a serious liver condition. The good news is that these conditions have been found to recover by themselves, but none the less one must keep a strict eye on the occurring problems. Also, it has been found that such babies who are born of mothers having gestational diabetes are more likely to have breathing problems, and therefore need medical assistance for respiratory issues until the lung improves.

The effects of gestational diabetes can be a long lasting one, and children may be at the risk of being obese and type 2 diabetes in later life.

Read more articles on Gestational Diabetes


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