Disorders of Pregnancy

In the course of its research on healthy pregnancy, the NICHD has made great progress in understanding features of disorders that may occur during pregnancy. Work is ongoing to find ways to treat and prevent these disorders to help women have healthy pregnancies and healthy babies.

Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM)

Gestational Diabetes Mellitus is a specific type of diabetes that only pregnant women get. To support the fetus as it grows, the mother's body makes hormones. In some women, these hormones work against their bodies, making them less able to make the insulin needed to get energy from body cells. Without this insulin, the level of sugar in the mother's blood starts to build up, which, if left untreated, can cause health problems for both mother and fetus.

Researchers estimate that GDM occurs in nearly 7 percent of all pregnancies. Unlike some other disorders that occur during pregnancy, GDM is often treatable. GDM treatment plans should be designed by a health care provider to address a woman's specific health needs. In general, many GDM treatment plans include: following a healthy meal plan as outlined by a health care provider; getting regular, moderate physical activity; maintaining a healthy weight gain; and measuring and recording blood sugar levels. Some women also need to take insulin or other medications to maintain a healthy pregnancy.

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