Gestational Diabetes (cont.)

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What are the symptoms of gestational diabetes?

Gestational diabetes typically does not cause any noticeable signs or symptoms. This is why screening tests are so important. Rarely, an increase in thirst or increased urination may be noticed.

How is gestational diabetes diagnosed?

Gestational diabetes is diagnosed with blood tests. Most pregnant women are tested between the 24th and 28th weeks of pregnancy, but if you have risk factors, your doctor may decide to test earlier in the pregnancy.

Blood testing confirms the diagnosis. A screening glucose challenge test involves drinking a sugary beverage and having your blood drawn for testing of glucose levels an hour later. If the screening test is not normal, you may need additional testing. Another type of test is an oral glucose challenge test (OGTT). For this test your baseline blood glucose level is checked and then measured at 1, 2, and sometimes 3 hours after consuming a sugary drink.

Glycated hemoglobin, or hemoglobin A1c, is another test that may be performed. This test is used to monitor long-term blood glucose levels in people with diabetes. The hemoglobin A1c percentage offers a measure of the average blood glucose level over the past few months.

What are the consequences of gestational diabetes for the baby and mother?

Women with gestational diabetes who receive proper care typically go on to deliver healthy babies. However, if you have high blood glucose levels, this means the fetus also has high blood glucose levels. The elevation in blood glucose can cause the fetus to be larger than normal, possibly making delivery more complicated. The baby is also at risk for having low blood glucose (hypoglycemia) immediately after birth. Other serious complications of poorly controlled gestational diabetes in the newborn can include an increased risk of jaundice, an increased risk for respiratory distress syndrome, and a higher chance of dying before or following birth. The baby is also at a greater risk of becoming overweight and developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

If diabetes is present in early pregnancy, there is an increased risk of birth defects and miscarriage compared to that of mothers without diabetes.

Women with gestational diabetes have a higher chance of needing a Cesarean birth (C-section) due to the large sizes of their babies. Gestational diabetes may increase the risk of preeclampsia in the mother, a condition characterized by high blood pressure and protein in the urine. Women with gestational diabetes are also at increased risk of having type 2 diabetes after the pregnancy.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/26/2014

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Gestational Diabetes - Risk Factors Question: What risk factors do you have for gestational diabetes?
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