(KUTV) November is diabetes awareness month, and one type of diabetes you probably haven’t heard a lot about is gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes varies from Type 1 and Type 2 in that it isn’t present before pregnancy and develops once a woman is pregnant.
Twenty percent of women with gestational diabetes have zero risk factors which is why all pregnant women should be tested.
“We screen all women for gestational diabetes, and that’s usually done between 24 and 28 weeks as a standard,” says Dr. Chase Petersen, OBGYN at Intermountain Budge Clinic in Logan, Utah.
There are two ways to test for gestational diabetes – a one-step method or a two-step method.
“The two-step method is probably the most common where you would drink 50 grams of a concentrated sugar solution, and then an hour later have your blood drawn,” says Dr. Petersen.
They’ll look at your blood glucose level to determine if a follow-up glucose tolerance test is necessary. This test ultimately determines if a woman has gestational diabetes.
“When the mother’s blood glucose levels are very high, at a baseline, then the baby is always getting much more sugar than it needs to be having, and just like anyone you give too much sugar to, the baby will grow much larger than it normally would,” says Dr. Petersen.
You may think of a big baby as a healthy baby, but not when it’s because of gestational diabetes. Dr. Petersen says these babies are large, but poorly developed. They might struggle with breathing problems, low-blood sugar at birth, as well as many other metabolic problems such as high bilirubin, low calcium, and more.
If a woman is diagnosed with gestational diabetes, the most important thing is to normalize her blood-glucose levels. This can be done through lifestyle behaviors such as diet and exercise as well as medication.
“Your doctor will often start with an oral medication first, and then move onto insulin if you’re still not controlled on the oral medication,” says Dr. Petersen.