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January 22, 2001

Gestational Diabetes

Question from Tracy, California, USA:

I am seven months pregnant and was diagnosed with gestational diabetes at 29 weeks. I have had asthma for 10 years and I was put on an inhaled steroid about a year ago, and my doctor switched me to a different inhaled medication as it's considered more safe in pregnancy. I did not have gestational diabetes with my first pregnancy when I was not taking steroids. Can inhaled steroids somehow be related to gestational diabetes? Is it reasonable to consult with my asthma doctor in order to try cutting steroid intake?


Steroids can cause insulin resistance. However, this is usually associated with higher doses and systemic levels such as seen with oral prednisone. In theory, inhaled steroids do not result in a high blood concentration. Therefore, this should not contribute significantly to the gestational diabetes. A consultation with your asthma doctor is reasonable, because it would be good to have you on as few medications as possible.