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Jo-Anne M. Rizzotto, M.Ed, R.D., L.D.N., C.D.E.

Jo-Anne Rizzotto, MEd, RDN, LDN, CDCES, is Director of Educational Services at the Joslin Diabetes Center and Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA. She is a registered dietitian and a certified diabetes educator with over 25 years of clinical, research, management and industry experience and is a key member of the clinic leadership team. Jo-Anne is co-chair and an active member of the National Certification Board of Diabetes Educators Exam Board. Jo-Anne has a proven track record of managing many facets of quality assurance and improvement with documented outcomes including advancing the use of technologies in the clinic for the management of diabetes. Jo-Anne establishes, directs and manages all aspects of diabetes education programs including overall direction, content, design, delivery, budgeting and staff management. She ensures all programs and staff delivering education meet the highest quality standards and do so with the highest level of efficiency and effectiveness. Jo-Anne participates in and has been the co-principle investigator in numerous clinical research studies. Jo-Anne chairs and participates in a variety of high level selection committees, clinical guideline committees, publication review committees and academic promotion committees. She also chairs the quality committee with the General Counsel at the Joslin in addition to the Clinic policy and procedure committee.

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What is Gestational Diabetes?

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What is gestational diabetes? How is it diagnosed and treated?


Gestational diabetes (GDM) is a type of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy. About four percent of all pregnant women in the U.S. are diagnosed with gestational diabetes each year. Gestational diabetes is the result of hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy. These hormonal changes decrease the body's ability to use sugar from foods that we eat, specifically carbohydrates. When the body is unable to use all of the sugar from food, the mother's blood glucose levels can increase. High blood glucose levels may result in a large baby, making delivery difficult and can increase the risk of the mother developing high blood pressure.

Women who are at risk for developing gestational diabetes are those who may be overweight before becoming pregnant; have a family history of diabetes; are over the age of 25; have previously given birth to a large (over nine pounds) baby; or have had gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy.

Screening for gestational diabetes is generally done between the 24th and 28th weeks of pregnancy and requires an oral glucose tolerance test. (Be sure to ask your health care professional about this test). This test involves drinking a liquid that contains glucose, which causes blood glucose levels to rise within 30 to 60 minutes. A blood sample is taken from a vein in your arm about 30 minutes after drinking the solution. The blood test measures how the glucose solution was processed by the body. If your test results are not normal, you will have a similar test that requires you to fast beforehand. If this second test shows abnormal results, you have gestational diabetes.

The good news is that gestational diabetes is treatable! Most women have healthy pregnancies and healthy babies when they take the steps to control their condition. Meal planning, physical activity (be sure to check with your health care professional before starting any kind of exercise program) and home blood glucose monitoring are the cornerstones of therapy for women who have gestational diabetes. And because women who have had gestational diabetes are at a higher risk for developing Type 2 diabetes later in life, it's important to continue with healthy lifestyle habits.

The following are reputable sources for more information:

American Diabetes Association:

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD): Call 1-800-370-2943 for a free booklet, Am I at Risk for Gestational Diabetes? Or access at

The March of Dimes:

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