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11-01-2012 | Gestational diabetes | Review | Article

Gestational diabetes mellitus: risks and management during and after pregnancy

Thomas A. Buchanan, Anny H. Xiang, Kathleen A. Page


Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) carries a small but potentially important risk of adverse perinatal outcomes and a long-term risk of obesity and glucose intolerance in offspring. Mothers with GDM have an excess of hypertensive disorders during pregnancy and a high risk of developing diabetes mellitus thereafter. Diagnosing and treating GDM can reduce perinatal complications, but only a small fraction of pregnancies benefit. Nutritional management is the cornerstone of treatment; insulin, glyburide and metformin can be used to intensify treatment. Fetal measurements complement maternal glucose monitoring in the identification of pregnancies that require such intensification. Glucose testing shortly after delivery can stratify the short-term diabetes risk in mothers. Thereafter, annual glucose and HbA1c testing can detect deteriorating glycaemic control, a harbinger of future diabetes mellitus, usually type 2 diabetes mellitus. Interventions that mitigate obesity or its metabolic effects are most potent in preventing or delaying diabetes mellitus. Lifestyle modification is the primary approach; use of medications for diabetes prevention after GDM remains controversial. Family planning enables optimization of health in subsequent pregnancies. Breastfeeding may reduce obesity in children and is recommended. Families should be encouraged to help children adopt lifestyles that reduce the risk of obesity.

Nat Rev Endocrinol 2012;8:639–649. doi:10.1038/nrendo.2012.96

Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is one of the most common medical complications of pregnancy. The disease has important health implications for mother and child. This Review discusses current evidence for the importance of GDM, opportunities to reduce risk to mother and child and recommendations for clinical care.

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