(HealthNewsDigest.com) - Many of the complications you might experience while you’re expecting come with side effects, and certain pregnancy symptoms can tell you when something’s not right. But there’s one pregnancy complication that normally comes with no noticeable symptoms: Gestational diabetes. Glucose screening tests provide insight by evaluating your body’s ability to process sugar.
What is a glucose tolerance test?
Two types of glucose tolerance tests are commonly administered during pregnancy. The first type is the oral glucose tolerance test, during which you will drink a sweet solution, wait about an hour, and then provide a blood sample. The second type of test, called a 100-gram oral glucose tolerance test, is administered if the first test indicates a high blood glucose level. Four separate blood tests take place over the course of about three hours. If two or more show abnormal results, then you are likely to be diagnosed with gestational diabetes.
Why is testing so important?
Gestational diabetes puts you and your baby at risk. While most cases are easily managed and result in healthy babies, uncontrolled blood sugar can cause very high birth weight, respiratory distress syndrome, or pre-term birth. Because babies born to mothers with gestational diabetes sometimes produce excess insulin, they can also suffer from hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) after birth. Hypoglycemia can cause seizures in some cases. Untreated gestational diabetes can also result in stillbirth, and sadly, some babies die shortly after delivery.
Mothers with untreated gestational diabetes are at risk of developing preeclampsia, and are at a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The good news is that when gestational diabetes is managed properly, these risk decrease greatly and the problem is likely to resolve itself after the baby’s birth.
When are glucose tolerance tests administered?
Because gestational diabetes typically occurs after week 24 of pregnancy, glucose tolerance testing takes place around the same time, usually between week 24 and week 28. Women who are at a higher risk or who have had gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy often receive testing prior to the 13th week of pregnancy.
What do my glucose tolerance test results mean?
While your healthcare provider will give you specific information about your test results, a few general guidelines apply. If you were advised to fast prior to your test and your blood glucose level is 95mg/dL or higher, then your results may be normal. A blood glucose level of 180mg/dL or higher after one hour, 155mg/dL or higher after two hours, and 140mg/dL or higher after three hours indicates an abnormal reading. Abnormal readings may indicate the need for further testing, or you may be diagnosed with gestational diabetes immediately.
What happens if I test positive for gestational diabetes?
If you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, you’ll be advised of methods to keep your blood sugar under control, like eating a healthy diet, exercising if possible, and perhaps taking prescription medication. You will need to visit your health care provider more often, and your blood sugar levels will be monitored. You may also be referred to a specialist such as a dietician or an endocrinologist.