Diabetes Awareness Month: How To Tell If You’re at Risk for Gestational Diabetes

Pregnant-WomanOf all the hallmarks of prenatal appointments – the weigh-ins, urine tests and blood draws – the glucose screening is among the least popular with expectant moms.

Draining a cup of the super-sweet drink is a requirement at the 4- to 5-month mark to help obstetricians determine if the patient is at risk for gestational diabetes. A positive glucose screening can lead to a three-hour glucose tolerance test, which involves returning at a later date, fasting ahead of the appointment and drinking even more of the sugary sweet liquids.

While the screening and test may be a hassle, the condition they are designed to detect is a potentially harmful one. Gestational diabetes affects between 2 percent and 10 percent of expectant mothers and indicates an elevated (and abnormal) level of sugar in the blood.

Once diagnosed with gestational diabetes, the expectant mother must work to keep blood glucose. The food you eat gets digested and broken down into a sugar your body’s cells can use. This is glucose, one of the simplest forms of sugar. X levels at specific norms, will need to follow special meal plans and should incorporate physical activity into her schedule if she already hasn’t done so. Daily blood glucose the main sugar found in the blood and the body’s main source of energy. Also called blood sugar. X testing and insulin a hormone that helps the body use glucose for energy. The beta cells of the pancreas make insulin. When the body cannot make enough insulin, it is taken by injection or through use of an insulin pump. X injections may also be necessary depending on the individual situation.

Gestational diabetes mellitus is a common complication of pregnancy,” says Amanda O’Brien, MD, with Memorial Physician Services – Women’s Healthcare. “A pregnant woman who receives this diagnosis should not feel defeated, but rather empowered. The decisions she makes, with the help of her obstetrician, to control her blood glucoses can directly impact the outcome of her pregnancy and the health of her infant.”

How can you tell if you are at high risk for gestational diabetes? According to the American Diabetes Association, you’re considered at high risk for this condition (and should be screened early) if:

  • You’re obese (your body mass index is over 30)
  • You’ve had gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy
  • You have sugar in your urine
  • You have a strong family history of diabetes

Some practitioners will also screen you early if you have other risk factors, such as:

  • You’ve previously given birth to a big baby. Some use 8 pounds, 13 ounces (4,000 grams, or 4 kilos) as the cutoff; others use 9 pounds, 14 ounces (4,500 grams, or 4.5 kilos)
  • You’ve had an unexplained stillbirth
  • You’ve had a baby with a birth defect
  • You have high blood pressure
  • You’re older than 35