Preventing Gestational Diabetes

What increases my chance of developing gestational diabetes?

Your chance of developing gestational diabetes are higher if you

  • are overweight
  • had gestational diabetes before
  • have a parent, brother, or sister with type 2 diabetes
  • have prediabetes, meaning your blood glucose levels are higher than normal yet not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes
  • are African American, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic/Latina, or Pacific Islander American
  • have a hormonal disorder called polycystic ovary syndrome, also known as PCOS
A pregnant woman.
Being overweight, a family history, or having prediabetes increases your chance of developing gestational diabetes.

How can I lower my chance of developing gestational diabetes?

If you are thinking about becoming pregnant and are overweight, you can lower your chance of developing gestational diabetes by losing extra weight and increasing physical activity before you become pregnant. Taking these steps can improve how your body uses insulin and help your blood glucose levels stay normal.

Once you are pregnant, don’t try to lose weight. You need to gain some weight for your baby to be healthy. However, gaining too much weight too quickly may increase your chance of developing gestational diabetes. Ask your doctor how much weight gain and physical activity during pregnancy are right for you.

Last Reviewed May 2017
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This content is provided as a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health. NIDDK translates and disseminates research findings to increase knowledge and understanding about health and disease among patients, health professionals, and the public. Content produced by NIDDK is carefully reviewed by NIDDK scientists and other experts.

The NIDDK would like to thank:
Boyd Metzger, M.D., Northwestern University