Skip to content

The Critical Role of Tackling Gestational Diabetes in Type 2 Diabetes Prevention

T2DxGDM Featured Image

Our second blog post in our Type 2 Diabetes Prevention series is about the link between gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) and type 2 diabetes (T2D). GDM, a type of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy, is associated with a significantly increased risk of developing T2D later in life. In fact, in the UK 50% of mothers affected by GDM develop T2D within 5 to 7 years.

What is the connection between GDM and T2D?

During pregnancy, hormonal changes can lead to insulin resistance, where the body's cells become less responsive to insulin. This physiological adaptation is essential for ensuring an adequate supply of glucose to the growing fetus. In some cases, however, this insulin resistance becomes more pronounced, resulting in elevated blood sugar levels characteristic of GDM. 

While GDM often resolves after childbirth, women who have had GDM are at higher risk of developing T2D later in life. This increased risk is attributed to the underlying insulin resistance and metabolic dysfunction associated with GDM. Ethnicity and lifestyle factors, such as diet, obesity and sedentary behaviour, further exacerbate this risk, as explored in our previous blog about the development of T2D. 

What can women who have had GDM do to prevent T2D?

Understanding the link between GDM and T2D is crucial for early detection and intervention. Women who have had GDM during pregnancy should undergo screening for hyperglycaemia at 6 to 12 weeks post-partum and then undergo annual screening for prediabetes and T2D.  

Women who develop GDM during pregnancy should take proactive measures to minimise their risk of developing T2D. Lifestyle interventions, including maintaining a healthy diet and engaging in regular exercise, play a crucial role in reducing the likelihood of developing T2D after having GDM.  

Additionally, these women can benefit from participating in initiatives such as the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme, which focuses on preventing T2D through lifestyle changes. Participants can choose between a face-to-face group service and a digital service, both of which offer personalised support to manage weight, adopt healthier eating habits, and increase physical activity levels. Completing the Healthier You NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme (also known as the Healthier You programme ) can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by more than a third. Healthcare providers play a pivotal role in educating and supporting women with a history of GDM in managing their long-term health outcomes. By providing personalised care and guidance, healthcare professionals can empower women to take proactive steps towards preventing T2D and improving their overall well-being. 


In conclusion, the link between GDM and T2D highlights the importance of addressing metabolic health during and after pregnancy. By raising awareness about this connection and promoting early screening and intervention, we can mitigate the long-term health risks associated with GDM and T2D.

Leave a Comment