Pregnant? Get screened for gestational diabetes after 24 weeks

Regardless of risk factors or family history, all women should be screened for gestational diabetes
after 24 weeks of pregnancy, new guidelines suggest.

The recommendations come from a statement by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), and the panel of experts claims that the risks or benefits of screening before 24 weeks aren't clear enough to warrant tests until after the six-month mark.

Testing leads to healthier moms and babies

According to the panel, there is enough evidence to support that testing after 24 weeks provides a "substantial benefit" and little to no harm to mother and child.

"It's important to remember that each case of gestational diabetes affects two people: the expectant mother and the baby," Dr. Wanda Nicholson, task force member, said in a press release.

Since the last research on this subject emerged in 2008, new findings indicate that screening for gestational diabetes – even in women with no known risk factors – can help lower risk for delivery complications, preeclampsia (high blood pressure and protein in the mother's urine) and the delivery of overly large infants (macrosomia).

About 7 percent of women who give birth each year have gestational diabetes, the panel said, and the number is rising because of increasing obesity rates. The condition can usually be reversed once a mother gives birth, but it can predispose both mother and child toward developing diabetes later in life.

Any woman can develop it

The panel also points out that any woman can develop gestational diabetes, making it a public health concern for current and future generations. Women with the condition can't process sugars and starches into valuable energy needed during pregnancy.

Infants born to mothers with the condition, moreover, are often born heavier or with injuries. Additionally, they are more likely to be obese during childhood, the news release stated.

With proper precautions and lifestyle changes, women can greatly reduce their risk for developing gestational diabetes, the panel said.

"Women should have a conversation with their doctor before getting pregnant or in the early stages of pregnancy about steps they can take – such as improving their diet, being physically active or other strategies – to reduce their risk of developing [the condition]."

Source: Medical Xpress

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