Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that manifest during a woman’s pregnancy. Pregnant women are prone to hormonal changes that can affect how their body regulates their sugar level. In result, they have elevated blood sugar levels which can lead into complications during delivery.
Last week, we’ve talked about one relatively new biomarker that can help doctors determine if a woman is more likely to have gestational diabetes. This is a great development considering that not all women are tested with regards to this type of diabetes. As of this day, pregnant women undergo glucose testing only if they are at risk. They are determined to be at risk if they fall under these conditions:
- If they had gestational diabetes on their previous pregnancies
- If they are overweight or obese
- If they are 25 years old and above
- If they have an immediate family member (sister, parents) with type 1 or type 2 diabetes
- If previous delivery was a baby weighing more than 9 lbs.
- If they have glucose in their urine
- If they have impaired glucose tolerance also known as ‘prediabetes’
It should be noted that gestational diabetes affects 18% or roughly 2 out of 10 pregnant women. Undiagnosed or late diagnosis of gestational diabetes happens a lot that it should be since most pregnant women don’t know about it. There is also a misconception that since these women have no history of having diabetes before, they won’t have gestational diabetes. The truth, however, is that this diabetes affects even the most fit and healthy moms to be.
The diagnosis for gestational diabetes as well for other pregnancy related conditions should be done of the first prenatal visit. The American Diabetes Association recommends this diagnosis as early as the first visit so blood sugar management can be started right away. A recent study has found out that early diabetes management can significantly lower the complications during birth. So this means that the earlier you are diagnosed, the better chance of having a regular and fuss-free delivery. If initial glucose testing results are normal, you should be tested again anytime between your 24th week or 28th week during pregnancy.
Screening for gestational diabetes is usually performed using the glucose challenge screening test. This test consists of having patients drink a glucose solution and drawing out a sample of their blood after an hour. Fasting is not necessary for the test and if results are normal, no other tests are conducted. If you’re blood has unusual sugar level, the doctor can conduct an oral glucose tolerance which requires fasting for patients. A series of similar exams will be performed to determine if you are indeed prone to gestational diabetes. If this happens, you’ll be under a treatment plan to help you manage this condition.