Diagnosing gestational diabetes

Gestational diabetes is a condition that must be managed throughout pregnancy. But before managing it, healthcare providers need to be able to diagnose it. Here’s some more information about how that’s done.

When do healthcare professionals perform the test?

Women are usually tested for gestational diabetes between weeks 24 and 28 of pregnancy, because this is when the condition most often develops. Women who have certain risk factors, including a personal or family history of diabetes or gestational diabetes, or a high BMI, might be tested earlier, at around 14 weeks. Early testing might include a glucose tolerance test, which is also used later on in pregnancy for more routine gestational diabetes testing, or HgBA1c, a hemoglobin A1c test that measures more long-term sugar processing.

What is the test like?

The test is easy, painless, and requires minimal effort. Women fast for 8 hours, drink a sugary drink, and then have their blood samples taken. The blood samples are tested to measure how well the woman’s body processes glucose.

If the results are abnormal, a 3-hour version of the test is performed later. If the results are abnormal a second time, the woman is diagnosed with gestational diabetes.

Getting screened for gestational diabetes can be intimidating or outright nerve-wracking for pregnant women. But it helps ensure a healthy pregnancy, with or without gestational diabetes, and it gives important information about the steps women need to take while eating to encourage a healthy pregnancy going forward.

  • “Gestational Diabetes.” ChildrensHospitalWisconsin. Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, 2016. Web.
  • “Gestational Diabetes.” ACOG. FAQ no. 177 from American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Sep 2013. Web. 
  • Natasha Leader. “Understanding GDM.” GestationalDiabetesRecipes. GD Recipes, Jul 2011. Web.
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