Gestational Diabetes Testing - What To Expect
In pregnancies today, having a screening for gestational diabetes has become very common. The test is given between the 24th-28th week of pregnancy when this form of diabetes will show up at its height.
While women with gestational diabetes can still deliver normal healthy babies, if left untreated, high blood sugar levels can cause problems for both you and your baby. Why is it necessary to be tested for gestational diabetes? Let's take a closer look.
Gestational Diabetes Screening
Until recently, testing for gestational diabetes was not included as routine prenatal care for most women, unless you had diabetes prior to becoming pregnant. In 2005, researchers reported results from a study that tracked women who were pregnant and had gestational diabetes. The women who received proper medical treatment for diabetes all had healthier babies and fewer complications than those who had no treatment. Hence, the importance of being screened.
Your doctor will most likely have you take what is called the glucose challenge test. What happens is that you'll be given a special glucose solution to drink when you come in for your appointment. It is simply an extra sweet solution that sort of tastes like a soft drink.
Next, you'll wait for an hour and the doctor will draw a blood sample from your arm. The results will be known within a day or two.
The reason for the hour delay is to give the glucose drink time to work through your system and see how your body's insulin reacts. Does your pancreas produce enough insulin to offset the glucose? Or, does your body succumb to the increase and maintain a high blood sugar level? This is what the test will answer.
A normal and healthy blood sugar level following the test is below 140 mg/dL. If you're below that number you're fine, and no further testing needs to be done.
If you're blood glucose level is above 140 mg/dL, don't panic. You'll then be given a second test to confirm any diagnosis of gestational diabetes.
Follow Up Gestational Diabetes Test
For the follow up glucose test, you will need to fast overnight before the test for at least 8 hours. You'll be asked to have nothing but water during that time.
You'll then be given another glucose solution to drink, but this time your blood sugar levels are checked every hour for 3 straight hours. If your blood sugar is high for two of those three hours, you will be diagnosed with gestational diabetes.
If in fact it is confirmed that you have gestational diabetes, your doctor will most likely put you on a special diet and exercise program for the duration of your pregnancy. In some cases daily insulin medication may also be needed.
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