Difference Between Gestational Diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It is characterized by high levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood, which can cause various health problems. There are three main types of diabetes: type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes.

Gestational diabetes is a blood sugar problem that is diagnosed or develops during pregnancy. Type 2 diabetes is the condition in which blood sugar problems occur in adulthood, most often after age 40.

What is Gestational Diabetes?

Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that develops during pregnancy. It is a temporary form of diabetes that affects women who have never had diabetes before and usually goes away after delivery. This type of diabetes occurs due to hormonal changes in the body during pregnancy and affects about 2 to 10% of all pregnant women.

Causes − It is thought that gestational diabetes is due to hormonal changes that take place during pregnancy which, in some cases, leads to insulin resistance. Women who are obese are also more likely to develop the condition during pregnancy; however genetics may also play a role and thus some women may already be predisposed to the condition.

Diagnosis − Diagnosis is best done based on the results of an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT). A blood measure at 1 hr giving a blood glucose value of between 130 and 140 mg/dl and also a similarly high value at 3 hrs in the OGTT test would indicate the presence of diabetes. Sometimes a single test measuring blood glucose can be done either randomly or after a period of fasting. A random blood glucose level of greater than 200 mg/dL, or a fasting value at or greater than 100 mg/dL are both indicative of diabetes.

Symptoms − Many women with gestational diabetes do not have any obvious symptoms. However, symptoms that may occur include unusual thirst and increased urination, as well as feeling unusually tired.

Treatment − Often a change in diet along with exercise can help to control the diabetes, but in other cases the doctor may suggest that the person have insulin injections or take oral medication. The drug glyburide is often used for treating gestational diabetes. Extra monitoring of the developing fetus is often recommended after a diagnosis of gestational diabetes.

What is Type 2 Diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is a long-term condition in which the body becomes resistant to insulin, the hormone responsible for regulating blood sugar levels. It is caused by a combination of factors such as genetics, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, and unhealthy eating habits. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes and affects about 90% of all people with diabetes.

Differences: Gestational Diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes

The main difference between gestational diabetes and type 2 diabetes is their cause and risk factors. Gestational diabetes is caused by hormonal changes during pregnancy, while type 2 diabetes is caused by a combination of genetic and lifestyle factors. Gestational diabetes is a temporary condition that affects women during pregnancy, while type 2 diabetes is a long-term condition that can affect people of all ages and genders.

Another difference between gestational diabetes and type 2 diabetes is the way they are treated. Gestational diabetes is usually managed through dietary changes and regular monitoring of blood sugar levels. In some cases, medication may be required to control blood sugar levels. Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, is treated through a combination of lifestyle changes, medication, and insulin therapy.

The following table highlights the major differences between Gestational Diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes −


Gestational Diabetes

Type 2 Diabetes


Gestational diabetes is blood sugar problems that occur and are diagnosed for the first time during pregnancy.

Type 2 diabetes is the condition in which there are blood sugar problems that occur in adulthood with blood sugar being too high.

Gender affected

Gestational diabetes only affects pregnant women.

Type 2 diabetes affects both men and women, most commonly over age 40.


The cause of gestational diabetes is mainly hormonal changes of pregnancy but genetics and poor diet can have an effect.

The cause of type 2 diabetes is thought to be a combination of genetics, poor diet, obesity, and lack of exercise.


Diagnosis of gestational diabetes can be made if the values of the oral glucose tolerance test values are between 130 and 140 mg/dL or the fasting blood glucose is 100 mg/dL or more.

Diagnosis of type 2 diabetes can be made if the values of the oral glucose tolerance test values are 200mg/dL or more and the fasting blood glucose is above 100 mg/dL.


There may be no symptoms of gestational diabetes or else people may feel thirsty, urinate often and feel tired.

The symptoms of type 2 diabetes include hunger, thirst, urinating more often, feeling tired and also having a fruit-like smell to the breath.


Gestational diabetes can be treated with insulin injections or oral glyburide if needed, else by exercise and diet.

Type 2 diabetes can sometimes be treated simply by a change in diet and exercising, else metformin may be prescribed.


There are complications associated with gestational diabetes such as an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life; the newborn child may have jaundice and blood sugar issues.

Complications associated with type 2 diabetes include nerve damage leading to kidney and heart problems, loss of vision, and gangrene leading to limb amputation, and even death.


Gestational diabetes and type 2 diabetes are two different forms of diabetes that have distinct causes, risk factors, and treatments. Understanding the difference between the two is crucial in order to manage diabetes effectively and prevent complications. It is important for individuals to work closely with their healthcare providers to develop an individualized treatment plan that is right for them.

Updated on: 06-Apr-2023


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