by EBSCO Medical Review Board

A person can get gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) with or without the risk factors below. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your chances of getting it. Women with many risk factors should ask their doctor what they can do to lower the risk.

Risk factors for GDM:

Obesity or Overweight

Women who are overweight or obese are at an increased risk of GDM. Body mass index is a measure of body fat based on height and weight. Women with a higher BMI are at greater risk.

Family History of Diabetes

Women who have family members with type 2 diabetes are at increased risk.

GDM in a Previous Pregnancy

Women who have had GDM in a prior pregnancy are at risk of getting it again.


Being older than 35 years may increase the risk of GDM.


GDM is more common in women who are:

  • Latino
  • Native American
  • Asian
  • Black
  • Pacific Islander

Other Risk Factors

  • Heart disease
  • Low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) ("good") cholesterol and high triglycerides
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Lack of activity


American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Committee on Practice Bulletins—Obstetrics. Practice Bulletin No. 190: Gestational Diabetes Mellitus. Obstet Gynecol. 2018 Feb;131(2):e49-e64.

Gestational diabetes. American Diabetes Association website. Available at: Accessed January 14, 2020.

Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: . Updated December 18, 2019. Accessed January 14, 2020.

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