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Blood Glucose Screening During Pregnancy

Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that only affects pregnant women. Changes in your body during pregnancy cause your blood sugar (glucose) to be too high. A blood sugar level that is too high can cause problems for you and your baby. This is a serious condition, but it can be treated.

Pregnant woman speaking with her healthcare provider
Talk with your healthcare provider about any concerns you have about diabetes and pregnancy.

Who is at risk for gestational diabetes?

You are at high risk if 2 or more of the following apply to you. You are at average risk if only 1 of the following apply to you. You are at low risk if none of the following apply to you.

  • You are Hispanic, African American, Native American, South or East Asian, or Pacific Islander.

  • You weigh more than your healthcare provider says is healthy for you or have gained excessive weight in early pregnancy.

  • You have a relative with diabetes.

  • You are older than age 25.

  • You had gestational diabetes during a past pregnancy.

  • You had a stillbirth or a very large baby before.

  • You have a history of abnormal glucose tolerance in the past.

What happens during a screening?

When you are screened depends on your level of risk for gestational diabetes. Women at low risk may not be tested unless they start to have problems. Women at average risk are tested at 24 to 28 weeks of pregnancy. Women at high risk may be tested when they first learn they are pregnant, and again at 24 to 28 weeks.

To do the screening, a blood sample is taken and your blood sugar level is measured. If the results show a high blood sugar level, a glucose tolerance test may be ordered. This test measures the amount of time it takes for sugar to leave your blood. You may be told to stop eating 10 hours before this test in order to get a fasting level.

After the fasting level is obtained, another blood sugar level test is done one hour after a controlled amount of sugar is given to you. If your results are abnormal, a three hour glucose tolerance test is ordered. If two of the four results (fasting and 3 blood tests one hour apart) are abnormal, then you are considered to have gestational diabetes.

What to know if you test positive

Gestational diabetes is treatable. The best way to control gestational diabetes is to find out you have it as early as possible and start treatment quickly.

Gestational diabetes can cause problems for the mother during pregnancy. It can also cause problems with the baby during pregnancy, delivery, and after. But treating gestational diabetes greatly lowers the chances that problems will develop.

The changes in your body that cause gestational diabetes normally occur only when you are pregnant. After the baby is born, your body goes back to normal and the condition goes away. You may be more likely to have type 2 diabetes later in life, though. So talk with your healthcare provider about ways to help prevent type 2 diabetes.

Treating gestational diabetes

You’ll need to check your blood sugar level regularly. You will most likely do this at home by pricking your finger and checking a drop of blood on a glucose monitor. This device measures your blood sugar level. Your healthcare provider will show you how to check, when to check, and discuss a target blood sugar level with you.

To manage your blood sugar, you will be given a special plan. This plan will likely involve planning your meals and getting regular exercise. Some women need to take an oral medicine, such as metformin or glyburide, or inject a hormone called insulin to help control their blood sugar.

Author: StayWell Custom Communications
Last Annual Review Date: 4/1/2019
Copyright © The StayWell Company, LLC. except where otherwise noted.
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