All pregnant women should get gestational diabetes screening, according to a report issued by the US Preventative Services Task Force and published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Many physicians, including those within the North Shore-LIJ Health System, routinely perform these tests.
The journal recommended specific, stringent testing guidelines that may help reduce the dangers associated with undiagnosed and untreated gestational diabetes. Risks include preeclampsia (also called toxemia, which is pregnancy-related high blood pressure, protein in the urine and swelling from fluid retention), macrosomia (excessive birth weight for babies) and birth-related injuries.
Maintaining a healthy body weight and staying active are important lifestyle habits that can help prevent diabetes in everyone. But the rise of US obesity has led to an increase in women who conceive while they have undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes. Widespread obesity also accounts for an increase in women who develop gestational diabetes.
Diabetes during pregnancy puts both mother and baby at risk. Since women often show no symptoms, early diabetes screening and appropriate treatment are vital to avoid complications.
Different Diabetes Screenings for Different Needs
At the first prenatal visit, women should get a Type 2 diabetes screening if they have any of these risk factors:
- excess weight;
- family history of diabetes;
- a high-risk ethnic back ground (African American, Latino, Native American or Asian);
- physical inactivity;
- having a baby that weighed more than nine pounds;
- high blood pressure; or
- polycystic ovary syndrome.
Mothers who screen negative for Type 2 diabetes should get tested later in the pregnancy for gestational diabetes.
Women diagnosed with gestational diabetes need follow-up screening at six to 12 weeks after delivery to ensure resolution of the diabetes. Furthermore, gestational diabetes puts women at high risk for developing Type 2 diabetes later, so regular, ongoing testing will be necessary.