Gestational diabetes screenings – It’s one sweet drink

Pregnancy and diabetes, screening for gestational diabetes.

If you are like most women, you probably have never heard of Gestational Diabetes until you are told you have it. Gestation is another word for pregnancy, and gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy.

During pregnancy, gestational diabetes is diagnosed after routine blood work screening. According to the Mayo Clinic, there is not one universal ‘standard procedure’ on screening guidelines for gestational diabetes.  Also, there is some debate as to the necessity of screening mothers 25 years and younger.

However, for almost all pregnancies, during one of your early OBGYN visits your doctor will discuss diabetic risk factors. One main risk factor is a family history of diabetes. During routine prenatal office visits your healthcare provider will observe other risk indicators.

For those at an ‘average’ risk of gestational diabetes, you will likely have a screening test sometime during your second trimester — between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy.

Tips on the screening process:                                                                                                          

  • The first step:  (glucose challenge test) you will be asked to drink a syrupy glucose solution.  Then one hour later you’ll have a blood test to measure your blood sugar level. If your blood sugar level is higher than normal, it only means you have a higher risk of gestational diabetes. With those results your doctor will most likely order a follow-up test.
  • The follow-up test (glucose tolerance test): A longer version of the first test. You will drink another sweet solution,this one containing a higher concentration of glucose, and your blood sugar level will be checked every hour for a period of three hours. If at least two of the blood sugar readings are higher than normal, you may be diagnosed with gestational diabetes.

It is important to have your test results properly verified with your healthcare professional.

Gestational screenings are not only for first time mothers but are done routinely for most pregnancies. The risk of gestational diabetes increases as a woman gets older. Also, even if you didn’t have it in an early pregnancy, you could develop it in a later pregnancy.

Whatever the screening outcome, it is important to know that you didn’t do anything to bring on gestational diabetes.  Gestational diabetes affects women who are in great physical shape just as it might those who are overweight.

Good prenatal care is vital to both the mother and babies’ overall health. Learn how to control your blood sugar before and during pregnancy to help prevent birth defects and other poor outcomes, such as miscarriages or stillbirths.

For more information on this topic and health and nutrition visit the Michigan State University Extension website and go to the diabetes section.

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