What You Should Know About the Gestational Diabetes Test

blood glucose test

Story at-a-glance -

  • It is a good idea to undergo gestational diabetes testing to ensure the safety of both you and your baby
  • There is nothing to be worried or anxious about if your doctor asks you to get a gestational diabetes test

According to a 2014 study, at least 9.2 percent of expectant mothers in the U.S. suffer from gestational diabetes.1 While there are certain risk factors that can predispose you to this condition, it is still beneficial to undergo gestational diabetes testing to ensure the safety of both you and your baby.

There is nothing to be worried about if your doctor asks you to get a gestational diabetes test, as this is a routine procedure for all pregnant women. Usually, physicians would conduct the screening test during your second trimester, or between your 24th and 28th week of pregnancy.

However, for women with a high risk of gestational diabetes, such as those who have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher prior to getting pregnant or have a close relative who has been diagnosed with the diabetes, the screening test may be conducted during their first prenatal checkup.2

Most Doctors Use This Routine Approach to Screen for Gestational Diabetes

While there are several screening tools available to check for diabetes, most obstetricians use a two-step technique to determine a patient's potential for developing this disease. This includes:3,4

Initial glucose challenge test — Thereis no special preparation for this test. Eating and drinking beforehand is allowed. When you arrive at your physician's office, you'll be asked to drink a sweet glucose solution.

This drink tastes like a very sweet soda and may come in different flavors. You will be given five minutes to ingest it all.

After an hour, a sample of your blood will be taken to check for your blood glucose level. If your level is below 130 to 140 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or 7.2 to 7.8 millimoles per liter (mmol/L), it's considered normal.

If it goes above this range, then it means that you have a higher gestational diabetes risk. In this case, your physician will recommend undergoing the glucose tolerance test.

However, if the result is higher than 200 mg/dL, most doctors will already consider you diabetic – they will not ask you to take the glucose tolerance test.

Glucose tolerance test — Unlike the initial glucose test, this procedure will require you to fast overnight. It's  best to have this test performed in the morning. To start your doctor will measure your blood sugar level.

Afterwards, you'll be asked to drink another sweet solution — this is either a more concentrated dose (meaning it's sweeter than the one used for the glucose challenge) or you will be given a larger dose.

Your glucose levels will then be checked every hour for three hours. If two of the three readings appear to be higher than normal, then it means that you have gestational diabetes.

However, if only one of the tests reveal high blood sugar levels, you will need to undergo another glucose tolerance test after a month.

Is the Gestational Diabetes Test Safe?

The gestational diabetes is very safe for both mother and her child. However, there are a few who may experience certain side effects, typically because of the glucose solution.

Some women feel nauseated after drinking the sweet beverage, and others even throw up. If the latter happens to you after you've ingested the liquid, then you'll need to repeat the test on another day.5

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