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February 27, 2004

Gestational Diabetes

Question from Smithfield, North Carolina, USA:

I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes at 30 weeks gestation. One week earlier, I was also found to be anemic. Is any correlation between gestational diabetes and anemia of which I should be aware? Could the two be related to another underlying condition, such as HELLP syndrome or anything else? My home glucose levels seem to be normal and I am five days into the new diet change. Overall, I do feel better since I've begun taking my iron supplement and the new diet.


I am not aware of any relationship between gestational diabetes and anemia. Anemia in pregnancy is fairly common. However, this is relative. In pregnancy, your total blood volume increases. Your red blood cell volume increases, but your plasma volume increases even more, so the fraction of red cells as a percentage of your circulating blood volume is decreased resulting in “anemia”. However, you may be truly anemic, so the iron supplementation is useful. Luckily, fetuses are very effective parasites and they acquire iron from you no matter what, so they are rarely born anemic themselves.