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Should I be screened for gestational diabetes?

Dr. Deborah Raines, MSN
Nursing Specialist

It is recommended that all pregnant women be screened for gestational diabetes mellitus between 24 and 28 weeks gestation. Women with specific risk factors may be screened earlier.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists strongly suggests all pregnant women be screened for gestational diabetes, a form of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy.

Generally, the screenings occur between the 24th and 28th weeks of pregnancy, which coincides with the end of your second trimester or the beginning of your third trimester. Screening is so important because intervention can make a big difference in the health outcome of both a mother with gestational diabetes and her baby. For women who are at risk because they are obese (have a body mass index greater than 30) or have other risk factors this is generally done twice during the pregnancy, with the first test occurring in the first trimester.

Paula Greer
Midwifery Nursing Specialist

If you have risk factors for gestational diabetes like a family history, are overweight or even had gestational diabetes with a previous pregnancy you should be screened pre-conceptually or at the beginning of your pregnancy. Even without risk factors you should be screen between 24 to 28 weeks. Detection of diabetes during pregnancy and proper treatment can prevent complications for you and your baby.

If you face certain risk factors for gestational diabetes and are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant, you should talk to your doctor about being screened, or tested, for gestational diabetes. Some doctors recommended gestational diabetes screening for everyone who's pregnant. When you are screened depends on your risk factors, but most women are screened for gestational diabetes during the second trimester.

Because gestational diabetes (GDM) is one of the most common complications of pregnancy, all pregnant women are screened for the condition at or near the 24th week of pregnancy. In addition, women who are diagnosed with GDM during pregnancy have a higher risk for other complications such as gestational hypertension (high blood pressure in pregnancy), pre-eclampsia (a further complication of gestational hypertension) and the need for a Caesarean section. Women who are diagnosed with GDM have a 50 percent chance of developing diabetes later in life.

For women with risk factors such as prior gestational diabetes, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) or obesity with a BMI (body mass index) of greater than 30, screening tests are done early in pregnancy and again when recommended by standard guidelines. Although gestational diabetes is not always preventable, being active and maintaining a healthy diet are the most important lifestyle changes a woman can make.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.