I have no History of Diabetes. Why is my Blood Sugar being Tested?

A glucose screening test, which will test your blood sugar levels, is a regular procedure for a woman who is pregnant.  Typically, this test takes place sometime between the 24th and the 28th weeks of pregnancy.  Even if you have no history if diabetes, it is possible for you to have a condition known as gestational diabetes during pregnancy.

Gestational diabetes is a condition in which a pregnant woman has levels of blood glucose or blood sugar that are too high.  While related, gestational diabetes and diabetes are not the same thing.  Gestational diabetes usually will disappear after you deliver your baby.  It is likely that if you experience gestational diabetes that you will need to have your blood sugar tested again around six weeks after delivery, to see if your blood sugar levels are still elevated. 

There are many things, beyond a history of diabetes, that can contribute to the risk for gestational diabetes.  A family history of diabetes, for example, increases the risk that you will have gestational diabetes.  It is more likely for women over the age of 25 to have elevated blood sugar levels during pregnancy than it is for women under the age of 25.  Weight is another factor; women who are overweight are also more likely to have gestational diabetes.  Gestational diabetes is also more likely to occur in certain ethnic groups, such as American Indians, Asian-Americans, African-Americans, Pacific Islanders, and Hispanic-Americans.

Health care providers rely on blood sugar being tested to diagnose gestational diabetes because gestational diabetes may have no symptoms.  Gestational diabetes adds several risks to pregnancy, including the risk of having high blood pressure.  High blood sugar during pregnancy can also lead to other problems, such as stillbirth and breathing difficulties for your baby.  Gestational diabetes can typically be treated with dietary and lifestyle changes.  For these reasons, it is important for women who are pregnant to have their blood sugar tested, even if they have no history of diabetes.

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