Your Glucose Connection—Gestational Diabetes

Usually between your 24th and 28th week of pregnancy you take a test to measure the levels of glucose (sugar) in your blood. It’s part of your screening for gestational diabetes. (Your healthcare provider may have run the test during your 13th week of pregnancy, if it was determined early on that your genetic risk was high—or if you’ve had gestational diabetes.)

The test does not hurt and is relatively simple. Your doctor will have you drink a sweetened drink called Glucola (which has 50 grams of glucose). After an hour he/she and will take a sample of your blood. The results will show if your body has been responding to glucose positively or negatively. You'll need to have to do another screening test if indicated in your first test. This second screening is called the 100-gram oral glucose tolerance test. (You are actually tested four times over three-hours.) If two out of the four test results show abnormality, you will be diagnosed with gestational diabetes. If this happens, a health and nutrition plan for the remainder of your pregnancy has to be discussed with your healthcare provider. Treatment strategies include daily blood sugar monitoring, a healthy diet, exercise, and monitoring your baby. If blood sugar is too high, medication is needed. Of note, the disease usually does go away after childbirth, but women who have had gestational diabetes are at higher risk later in life of developing diabetes.

It’s important to get tested for gestational diabetes—if left untreated it can result in serious problems, including too much glucose ending up in your baby's blood, and the risk of your baby developing low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) after delivery. Gestational diabetes also increases your risk of pre-eclampsia, depression, and requiring a C-section.

 The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has detailed information on gestational diabetes. It is worth reading and sharing.