Am I at Risk for Gestational Diabetes?
Gestational diabetes can affect any pregnant woman, including those who may not have any risk factors at all. However, a number of factors might increase your chances of developing it.
Some of the questions you can answer to help determine your gestational diabetes risk include:
- Are you overweight?
- Does anyone in your family have a history of diabetes?
- Are you Hispanic/Latina, African American, American Indian, Alaska Native, Asian American, or Pacific Islander?
- Are you older than 25?
- Do you have certain health conditions that may be linked to insulin problems, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)?
- In prior pregnancies, did you have gestational diabetes, a stillbirth or miscarriage, or a large baby (more than nine pounds)?
- Do you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and/or heart disease?
- Do you have a history of problems with insulin or blood sugar, such as glucose intolerance, insulin resistance, or "prediabetes"?
If you answered "yes" to two or more of these questions, you may have a high risk for developing gestational diabetes. If you answered "yes" to at least one of the questions, you may have an average risk for this condition. If you didn't have any "yes" answers, your risk may be low for developing gestational diabetes.
For those who fall into the high-risk category, your healthcare provider may choose to test you for gestational diabetes as soon as you know you are pregnant. If the first test is negative, he or she will likely test you again between 24 and 28 weeks gestation.
For those who have an average risk for gestational diabetes, your healthcare provider will likely test you between 24 and 28 weeks of your pregnancy. Women who don't have any risk factors will still likely be tested, again between 24 and 28 weeks gestation.
To test for this condition, your healthcare provider will first give you a glucose screening test, also called a one-hour post-glucola (PG) test or a glucose challenge test. This test consists of drinking a sweetened beverage called glucola and then having a blood test an hour later. If this test is negative, you most likely do not have gestational diabetes.
However, if the level is high after an hour, your healthcare provider may order an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT). You will be asked to fast (not eat or drink anything except water for 8 to 12 hours) and then you will be given a larger dose of glucola. Your blood sugar levels will be tested after 1 hour, 2 hours, and 3 hours.
If your blood sugar levels are high for just one of these measurements, you probably don't have gestational diabetes, but your body may be having difficulty with keeping your blood sugar levels balanced. In these cases, changes in your diet may be sufficient to keep blood sugar under control.
If the levels are high for two or more of the measurements, you have gestational diabetes. Your healthcare provider will put together a treatment plan that meets your individual needs.