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Gestational Diabetes Diagnosis

Gestational Diabetes Diagnosis

What Does Having Gestational Diabetes Mean?

About 9.2%-10% of pregnant women suffer from gestational diabetes. This is a condition where women who have never had diabetes will have high blood sugar levels during pregnancy.

Its cause is not known, but it is suspected that the placental hormones block the mother’s insulin action causing insulin resistance. When this happens, she may need up to three times the normal amount of insulin to maintain the normal glucose level.

If not checked and managed, GD complications can affect the forming baby or the mother in late pregnancy. The babies develop a high risk of type 2 diabetes when they become adults and are susceptible to breathing problems at birth among other health issues.

What Is The Normal Range For Blood Sugar?

When you hear people or doctors talking about blood sugar and blood glucose, do not be confused, these two terms mean the same thing.

In the US, blood sugar is measured in mg/dl meaning milligrams of glucose per one deciliter of blood. When taking a gestational diabetes test, the doctors consider the normal glucose numbers which, if surpassed means you have high GD levels and are in need of treatment.

The normal numbers vary throughout the day and must be read depending on whether you are fasting or not.

Normal Blood Sugar Levels And Diabetic Blood Sugar Levels

  • A person who has no diabetes should have a fasting blood sugar of under 100mg/dl on awakening. It should be between 70
  • 90mg per deciliter before you take anything. When taken two hours after a meal, a normal blood sugar level should be below 140mg/dl.
  • Those with diabetes are advised to keep their fasting GD levels between 80 and 130 mg/dl and under 180 when taken 1-2 hours after a meal.

When the glucose levels become higher than normal, you will begin to experience GD complications, for example, inflammation of your blood vessels and nerves. On the other hand, low blood glucose levels can also cause health problems, including confusion, dizziness or fainting if not checked.

What Is A Normal Glucose Level During Pregnancy?

  • Pregnant women without diabetes should have a normal blood glucose level of 69 – 75 mg/dl when fasting. When taken an hour or two after eating, the blood sugar level should range between 105 – 108 mg/dl.
  • Pregnant diabetic women should keep their blood glucose levels below 95 mg/dl for fasting glucose and below 140 mg/dl an hour after eating and below 120 mg/dl 2 hours after a meal.
  • For those who have preexisting diabetes or who may have developed gestational diabetes, it is crucial that the levels are kept as close to normal as possible without causing hypoglycemia to prevent GD complications.

What Are The Screening Guidelines For Gestational Diabetes?

It Is Crucial For Women At Risk of Or With Pre-Existing Diabetes To Be Tested At Their First Antenatal Visit.

Anyone with a body mass index of 25kg /m2 or higher and presents an additional risk factor, including a close relative with diabetes, physical inactivity, previous gestational diabetes, and hypertension should be tested.

For those not at a high risk of developing gestational diabetes, doctors usually test the blood glucose levels around 24-48 weeks which is in the second trimester.

Doctors use an oral glucose tolerance test to diagnose GD. Patients are advised to fast for about 8 hours before the test, the best time for this is in the morning before you eat anything.

How Do You Check For Gestational Diabetes?

Two-Step Gestational Diabetes Testing

Most doctors employ a two-step approach to testing for gestational diabetes. The patient is first given an oral 50g glucose non-fasting test at 24 – 48 weeks of gestation. This is followed by a 100g fasting glucose test for those who have a positive test in the first stage test.

One-Step Gestational Diabetes Testing

Some doctors do use a one-step testing approach.The doctor will test your fasting blood sugar level then administer an oral sugar mixture of 75g glucose every hour for two hours and have the blood glucose measurements taken. If at any one time during the test your blood glucose levels are found to be elevated, you will be diagnosed to have gestational diabetes.

How Do You Test For Preeclampsia?

Getting tested for Preeclampsia is complimentary with gestational diabetes. Preeclampsia can be an effect of gestational diabetes due to the higher levels of blood pressure.

There Are Specific Blood Tests For Those Who Have Preeclampsia And General Tests For Those With Signs of The Condition.
  • Uric acid

When the blood test reveals an increased uric acid level, the woman will most likely have preeclampsia. This is among the earliest lab test to find out if the patient is suffering from the condition. This acid is normally filtered through the kidney and should be low in the blood. An elevation in its blood level indicated kidney damage by preeclampsia.

  • Hematocrit

If a test indicates a high hematocrit level, this can be a sign of preeclampsia. This test tells the percentage of red blood cells. A normal hematocrit level in a nonpregnant woman should be between 36 and 44 percent. This normally decreases during pregnancy due to an increase in the blood plasma fluids. In preeclampsia, there is an abnormally high level of red blood cells since it causes cells absorb plasma.

  • Platelets

A test to measure the number of blood platelets can show if one suffers from preeclampsia. A positive result is indicated by an abnormally high platelet level.

  • Partial Thromboplastin Time

This is the time the blood takes to clot. An increase in this time may be an indicator of preeclampsia.

  • Electrolytes

Preeclampsia can cause kidney damage resulting in a change in the number of electrolytes like calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, and chloride. Preeclampsia can also cause fluids to leak into the surrounding tissue resulting in a high concentration of the electrolytes.

  • Kidney function test

The doctor may go straight to testing for kidney function to check the levels of various substances in the blood. If those substances that are normally removed by the kidney are present in elevated amounts then the kidneys are damaged possibly by preeclampsia. They include blood urea and creatinine among others.

The Importance of Maintaining Normal Blood Sugar Levels During Pregnancy

  • It minimizes the risk of miscarriage and stillbirths
  • Reduces the chances of preterm labor that can cause premature birth
  • Reduces chances of birth defects
  • Reduced chances of excess fetal growth
  • Prevents conditions like preeclampsia and other GD complications in the mother
  • It also prevents complications in the baby after birth. These can include hypoglycemia and jaundice.

Final Note

Pregnancy women should take gestational diabetes test as recommended to catch this condition early enough before it causes any damage or complications. Regular blood glucose monitoring is crucial for a healthy body during pregnancy and for non pregnant people.

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