September 10, 2000
Genetics and Heredity, Gestational Diabetes
Question from Hayes, North Carolina, USA:
When I was pregnant with my daughter I had gestational diabetes, that was not caught by my glucose test. When my daughter was born, she had a glucose level of 3 mg/dl [0.17 mmol/L] and was sent to a children’s hospital until her level reached 40 mg/dl [2.2 mmol/L]and stayed 40 mg/dl [2.2 mmol/L]. She does not have diabetes. What is the chance of this happening in my next pregnancy? Is there a chance that my daughter will have diabetes when she is older?
I cannot give you an exact percentage of recurrence of gestational diabetes since many factors are involved. However, your risk is increased. Diabetes occurs in about 3-10% of all pregnancies and of these about 80% are women with gestational diabetes. So your baseline risk is about 8%, but in your case it is higher due to the fact that you had gestational diabetes previously.
Actions to lower your risk would be weight loss, exercise and special diet prior to becoming pregnant. Predicting diabetes in your daughter is very difficult since so many factors are involved (environmental, genetic, etc.). I would say that it is unlikely.
Additional comments from Dr. Donough O’Brien:
Since gestational diabetes is not linked to autoimmune diabetes, which is the commonest form in childhood, your daughter’s chance of becoming diabetic is no more than that of the population as a whole: that is, approximately 18/100, 000 per year until she is 18 and then diminishing rapidly.