When quizzed on how many types of diabetes exist, most people would answer two: type 1 and type 2. However, there is a third type: gestational diabetes. Here's how the three differ.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder that damages the pancreas so it cannot produce enough insulin, a hormone that lets glucose, or sugar, enter cells and produce energy. Those with type 1 must monitor their blood sugar regularly and take insulin.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes and occurs when people do not make enough insulin or are insulin resistant, meaning their cells don't respond well to insulin. Type 2 diabetes usually develops slowly, and milder forms can often be controlled with lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, exercising and eating better.
Gestational diabetes occurs when hormonal changes cause a woman with no history of diabetes to develop high blood glucose and insulin resistance during pregnancy. The condition requires careful monitoring to prevent complications. For most women, gestational diabetes goes away after delivery, but it may increase their risk for developing diabetes later in life.