The Importance of Glucose Screenings for Pregnant Women

Glucose tolerance screenings measure how well your cells are able to absorb glucose after ingesting sugar. Physicians use these screenings to diagnose gestational diabetes, which affects pregnant women who have high blood sugar levels as a result of their pregnancy. Gestational diabetes occurs in 9 percent of pregnancies, so glucose screenings are recommended for all women.

Gestational diabetes can cause complications in pregnancy, so it’s important for women to be screened each time they carry a child. Most physicians recommend a glucose tolerance screening during the 24th week of pregnancy.

How to Prepare for a Glucose Screening

Before you go in for your screening, continue a normal diet, and notify your doctor of medications you are taking – some can interfere with screening results. Fast for 8 hours before the exam, and be prepared to provide a urine sample if asked.

The Glucose Screening Process

This screening can be performed two ways. One option involves a two-hour oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) in which your doctor will take a blood sample and then ask you to drink a 75-gram glucose solution. After two hours, another blood sample will be taken.

The screening can also be performed via a one-hour screening and a three-hour test, if levels are elevated. After an initial blood sample, you will drink a glucose solution containing 50 grams of sugar. After one hour, you will give another blood sample to measure your blood sugar level.

Once the one-hour screening is completed, the three-hour test begins — essentially a three-hour OGTT. After drinking a 100-gram glucose solution, your physician will take a blood sample once an hour for three hours. The cumulative results will show how well your cells respond to the spike in blood sugar.

Lowering the Risk of Gestational Diabetes

There are many ways to lower your risk of gestational diabetes. Limiting high-sugar and carbohydrate-heavy foods can help, as can increasing your intake of foods high in fiber. Exercising regularly can also lower your risk.

If you are pregnant or wanting to become pregnant, schedule a glucose screening. Early detection is vital to preventing complications in pregnancies.

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