Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is defined as glucose intolerance of various degrees that is first detected during pregnancy. GDM is detected through the screening of pregnant women for clinical risk factors and, among at-risk women, testing for abnormal glucose tolerance that is usually, but not invariably, mild and asymptomatic. GDM appears to result from the same broad spectrum of physiological and genetic abnormalities that characterize diabetes outside of pregnancy. Indeed, women with GDM are at high risk for having or developing diabetes when they are not pregnant. Thus, GDM provides a unique opportunity to study the early pathogenesis of diabetes and to develop interventions to prevent the disease.
Source: J Clin Invest. 2005 Mar 1; 115(3): 485–491.
GDM is a form of hyperglycemia - i.e. an excess of blood sugar. In general, it results from an insulin supply that is inadequate to meet tissue demands for normal blood glucose regulation.
First formally identified in the 1950's, it affects between 3 and 10% of all pregnancies. It's usually, but not exclusively, mild and asymptomatic - though it can cause complications for both mother and baby.
The precise mechanisms underlying gestational diabetes remain unknown.
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