Gestational Diabetes

Medically reviewed by Carina Fung, PharmD, BCPPS

Gestational diabetes diagnosis

Diagnosing20 gestational diabetes often requires screening for the condition.

Gestational diabetes screening

Medical experts haven’t agreed on a single set of guidelines for gestational diabetes screening.

While some experts question whether gestational diabetes screening is necessary if you’re younger than 25 and have no risk factors for developing the condition, others argue that screening all pregnant women is the best way to detect all instances of gestational diabetes.

If you are pregnant, your provider will likely evaluate your risk for developing gestational diabetes early in your term.

If you are at high risk for the condition, you may be tested for diabetes at your first prenatal visit. If you are at average risk for developing gestational diabetes, you will most likely undergo screening during your second trimester (between 24–28 weeks of pregnancy).

There are several routine screenings for gestational diabetes, including:

  • Initial glucose challenge test: To take this test, you drink a syrupy glucose solution before having your blood sugar level measured one hour later (using a blood test). Blood sugar levels below 130–140 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or 7.2–7.8 millimoles per liter (mmol/L) are usually considered normal on glucose challenge tests. If your blood sugar level is higher than normal, it indicates that you are at higher risk for gestational diabetes. A glucose tolerance test is necessary to determine whether you do have the condition.
  • Follow-up glucose tolerance testing: Before taking this test, you have to fast overnight (for a minimum of 8 hours before the test). Your blood sugar will be measured after fasting, then again after drinking another sweet solution (this one containing a higher concentration of glucose) every hour for 3 hours. You will be diagnosed with gestational diabetes if at least 2 of the 3 blood sugar readings are higher than normal.

Blood sugar testing after birth

Your healthcare provider will check your blood sugar once after delivery and again 6–12 weeks later to make sure that it has returned to normal. If your tests are normal (which most are), you’ll need to have your risk for diabetes reassessed at least every 3 years after giving birth.

If any future tests indicate that you have diabetes or prediabetes21 (a condition in which your blood sugar is higher than normal but not high enough to be considered diabetes), your healthcare provider will likely discuss options for increasing your prevention efforts or start a plan for managing your condition.

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