Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is a condition in which women without previously diagnosed diabetes exhibit high blood glucose levels during pregnancy (especially during the third trimester of pregnancy).

It is defined as carbohydrate intolerance, which is the inability of the body to adequately process carbohydrates (sugars and starches) into energy for the body, which develops or is first recognized during pregnancy.

GDM is estimated to occur in 1% to 14% of US pregnancies, affecting more than 200,000 women annually.

It is one of the most common disorders in pregnancy and is associated with an increased risk of complications for the mother and child. Potential complications during pregnancy and delivery include preeclampsia (high blood pressure and excess protein in the urine), cesarean delivery, macrosomia (large birth weight), shoulder dystocia (when a baby’s shoulders become lodged during delivery), and birth injuries. For the neonate, complications include difficulty breathing at birth, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), and jaundice. Up to one-half of women who have GDM during pregnancy will develop type 2 diabetes later in life.

Although the Preventive Services Task Force found in 2008 that the evidence was insufficient to assess the balance between the benefits and harms of screening women for GDM, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends universal screening for gestational diabetes using patient history, risk factors, or laboratory testing, such as with a glucose challenge test (GCT). Different approaches are used internationally for screening and diagnosis of GDM. Debate continues regarding the choice of tests and the effectiveness of treatment, especially in women with mild to moderate glucose intolerance.

To better understand the benefits and risks of various GDM screening and diagnostic approaches, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is convening a Consensus Development Conference from October 29 to 31 to assess the available scientific evidence.

Presentation and discussion of the panel’s draft statement:

* Wednesday, October 31 at 9 am EST
* Natcher Conference Center on the main NIH campus in Bethesda, Md
* Also available via live Webcast

The Consensus Development Conference is free and open to the public. Conference times are listed below; click here for more information. 

* Monday, October 29 – 8:30 am to 5 pm
* Tuesday, October 30 – 8:30 am to 12:30 pm
* Wednesday, October 31 – 9 am to 11 am

[Source: NIH]