Blood Glucose Screening During Pregnancy

Blood Glucose Screening During Pregnancy

Gestational diabetes is diabetes that only pregnant women get. Changes in your body during pregnancy can cause high blood sugar (glucose). This can cause problems for you and your baby. It is a serious condition, but it can be controlled.

Pregnant woman sitting on exam table holding glucometer, talking to healthcare provider.

Who Is At Risk of Gestational Diabetes?

You are at high risk if two or more of the following apply to you. You are at average risk if only one of the following apply to you. You are at low risk if none of the following apply to you.

  • You are Hispanic, African-American, Native American, or Pacific Islander.

  • You weigh more than your doctor says is healthy for you.

  • You have a relative with diabetes.

  • You are older than age 25.

  • You had gestational diabetes during a past pregnancy.

  • You had a stillbirth or a very large baby before.

  • You have a history of abnormal glucose tolerance.

What Happens During a Screening

  • Your risk for gestational diabetes will determine when you have screening. Women at low risk may not be tested unless they start to have problems. Women at average risk are tested at 24 to 28 weeks of pregnancy. Women at high risk may be tested when they first learn they are pregnant, and again at 24 to 28 weeks.

  • To do the screening, a blood sample is taken and your blood sugar level is measured.

  • If the results show a high blood sugar level, a glucose tolerance test may be ordered. This test measures the amount of time it takes for sugar to leave your blood. You may be told to stop eating 10 hours before this test.

What to Know If You Test Positive

  • Gestational diabetes is treatable. The best way to control gestational diabetes is to find out you have it as early as possible and start treatment quickly.

  • Gestational diabetes can cause problems for the mother during pregnancy. It can also cause problems with the baby during pregnancy, delivery, and after. Treatment greatly lowers the chance of problems.

  • The changes in your body that cause gestational diabetes normally occur only when you are pregnant. After the baby is born, your body goes back to normal and the condition goes away. You may be more likely to have type 2 diabetes later, though. So talk to your doctor about ways to help prevent type 2 diabetes.

Treating Gestational Diabetes

  • You’ll need to check your blood sugar regularly. You can do this at home by pricking your finger and checking a drop of blood on a glucose monitor. Your health care provider will show you how and when to check your blood sugar and discuss your target blood sugar level.

  • To manage your blood sugar, you will be given a special plan. This plan will likely involve planning your meals and getting regular exercise. Some women need to take a hormone called insulin to help control their blood sugar.