Type 2 diabetes: fasting blood sugar level helps diagnose gestational diabetes early in pregnancy

Gestational diabetes, also known as pregnancy-related diabetes, carries risks for both mother and child. The earlier the disease is diagnosed, the sooner it can be treated. Currently, the condition is diagnosed between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy with the use of the oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT). Researchers at Peking University Hospital in Beijing and several other research facilities in China and the United States have found that fasting blood sugar levels can be used to diagnose gestational diabetes in the 19th week of pregnancy.

Their study, published in February 2019 in the chinese Medical Journal, included 34,087 pregnant women. Participants were classified as…

  • under weight,
  • Healthy weight,
  • overweight, or
  • obese,

and diagnosed at 24 to 28 weeks of pregnancy using OGTT. A total of 6,806, 20 percent of the women were found to have gestational diabetes.

  • Among overweight and obese women with fasting blood sugar levels of at least 5.10 mmol/L at 19 weeks, 78.5% were diagnosed with diabetes of pregnancy using OGTT at 24 to 28 weeks.
  • among underweight and normal-weight women, those with fasting blood sugar of 5.10 mmol/L or higher, 52.9 percent were later diagnosed with diabetes.

From the above result, the researchers concluded that overweight and obese women with fasting blood sugar levels of 5.10 mmol/L or higher at 19 weeks should be diagnosed with gestational diabetes.

Like type 2 diabetes, diabetes diagnosed during pregnancy can be treated with diet and physical activity. If necessary, insulin or oral anti-diabetic medications may be added. Women are typically asked to check their blood sugar level four or five times a day and adjust their diet and medication accordingly…

  • Mayo Clinic in the United States recommends a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and low in refined carbohydrates.
  • A doctor, nurse, or dietitian can advise women on calorie counting and portion sizes.
  • Walking, swimming, and bicycling are often recommended, along with regular housework and gardening.

Women diagnosed with gestational diabetes are usually asked to visit their obstetrician or midwife more often and closely monitor the health of their baby. Labor can be induced when the baby can safely breathe room air or if the pregnancy is beyond the expected date.

Childbirth cures gestational diabetes, but mothers should be monitored for possible development of type 2 diabetes after delivery. Diabetes tests should be done 6 to 12 weeks after delivery, and every 1 to 3 years after that for at least the next 5 to 10 years.

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