Prepare For Gestational Diabetes Screening Test

Gestational diabetes is a condition characterized by abnormally high blood glucose levels during the condition of being pregnant. Gestational diabetes occurs in 2 to 10% of pregnant women, according to the University of Wisconson-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health. Gestational diabetes can negatively affect outcomes for both mothers and babies so it is important to identify and control if present. Having gestational diabetes can increase the risk of complications such as pre-eclampsia, the development of jaundice, the need for a Cesarean section, or birthing a large baby. Therefore, all women are generally screened for it during their pregnancy, somewhere between 24 and 28 weeks of gestation. But how should a woman prepare for the gestational diabetes screening test? In this article, we will discuss tips for how to prepare for the screening to make sure it is as effective as possible.

Risk Factors For Gestational Diabetes

Risk factors for developing gestational diabetes include having a body mass index (BMI) greater than or equal to 30, having a first degree relative with diabetes, having had gestational diabetes previously, having given birth to a baby 9 pounds or heavier, and having hypertension. If a woman has previously had gestational diabetes, they will be screened earlier in their pregnancy during the 13th week. Doctors will take an oral history and determine a woman's risk factors for developing gestational diabetes as well as conduct what is known as an OGTT, an oral glucose tolerance test.

What Happens During An OGTT?

During the OGTT, a woman will drink 50 grams of glucose. In 30 to 60 minutes blood sugar will rise as the glucose enters the bloodstream. At this time a simple blood sample is drawn and analyzed in a glucometer. A blood sugar level of 140mg/dl will detect 80% of people who actually have gestational diabetes. If the threshold is lowered to 130mg/dl, then 90% of people who have gestational diabetes will be identified.

If the test is inconclusive, a doctor may choose to do a more intensive fasting OGTT using 100 grams of glucose and taking 4 blood draws of the 3 hours after the test. If two or more of the readings are abnormally high, a person is considered to have gestational diabetes. For the fasting OGTT, a person must avoid eating prior to the test.

Specific Tips On Preparing For The OGTT

Here are some tips that help you prepare for either type of OGTT:

• Eat a normal and healthy diet the days before the test

• Eat approximately 150 grams of carbohydrates for the 3 days prior immediately prior to the test

• Strenuous activity should be avoided before the test because it can lower blood sugar and this could affect the accuracy of the test

• In addition, a list of all medications, supplements, vitamins, and herbs a person takes should be shared with the doctor. These substances may also affect blood sugar, making it either higher or lower

• Bring something to entertain yourself during the test since you will have to wait between 30 minutes and 3 hours to complete the test

• Schedule your appointment for the morning,
especially if you have to fast prior to the test

• Check with your physician for specific instructions about when to stop eating and start fasting. Many offices have patients eat nothing past midnight the night before the test

• Drink the glucose solution within 5 minutes of getting it

• Have a snack with protein ready for after the test. Some people can become hypoglycemic (develop low blood sugar) after the OGTT.

• Drink only water prior to the test. Gum, mints, or cough drops, even those that are sugar-free may still affect results

Hopefully you found this information about diabetes useful. If you follow these hints in preparation for your gestational diabetes screening test you will give yourself the best chance of having an accurate result and detecting the disease if it is present.

Sources: Mayo Clinic, UW Health, WebMD
Photo: Pixabay

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