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Women diagnosed with gestational diabetes should test and track their blood sugar to ensure it remains at a healthy level.
A oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) requires the patient to fast for eight hours prior to the blood draw. Taking a glucose tolerance test during pregnancy is necessary to protect both the mother and fetus. The glucose tolerance test during pregnancy is identical to the test used to diagnose type one and two diabetes. Most pregnant women who regularly visit their obstetrician have the test during their third trimester. It occurs when a pregnant woman's pancreas does not secrete sufficient insulin in response to naturally higher blood glucose levels.
A woman has a series of blood tests over several hours, before and after ingesting a small amount of pure glucose.
If a woman does not have access to proper medical care, gestational diabetes can have a detrimental effect for mother and child. A woman will need to change her diet, cutting out carbohydrates and sugar; the goal of dietary change is to prevent spikes in blood glucose. Diagnosed during a glucose tolerance test during pregnancy, the condition is treatable for the remaining months of pregnancy. The condition develops in 5-10% of pregnancies, with the chances being higher if the woman is overweight or has a history of type two diabetes.
If pancreatic function is normal, the body responds by releasing excess insulin and test results do not show a spike in blood glucose. Children born to women with the untreated condition are more likely to have either low or high birth weight; the latter can necessitate Caesarian section.
Light exercise is sometimes recommended along with regular measuring of blood glucose levels.
In most cases, though, the condition is asymptomatic and diagnosed during a glucose tolerance test. As of 2011, research into the connection between untreated gestational diabetes and other conditions is under way. Taking these steps greatly reduces the likelihood of the side effects described in the previous paragraph.
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