So if you have ever had a baby or know someone who has had a baby, you have probably heard about the pregnancy glucose tolerance test. This is a test that is done between 24-28 weeks gestation to determine if you body is properly utilizing glucose. If your pancreas is struggling to produce enough insulin to uptake the glucose in your blood stream from the food you have eaten, then you would be diagnosed with gestational diabetes. If you have already been diagnosed with diabetes prior to pregnancy, then you will not have to complete this test.
What exactly in the glucose tolerance test? The test begins with you consuming a sugary, liquid solution that contains 50 grams of glucose. You have to consume all of this liquid within 5 minutes. Then you wait for 1 hour and you have your blood drawn to test your blood sugar (or the amount of glucose circulating in your blood stream). If this number comes back elevated, then you will have to repeat the study with a 3 hour tests, where you take the solution and have your blood drawn at the 3 hour mark to see what your blood sugar is and if it is elevated then you have gestational diabetes.
Your fasting blood sugar should be < 95mg/dL
Your blood sugar 1 hour after taking the solution should be < 180mg/dL
Your blood sugar 2 hours after taking the solution should be < 155mg/dL
Your blood sugar 3 hours after taking the solution should be < 140mg/dL
So now that I have established what the glucose tolerance test is, I wanted to discuss briefly about what this test shows. As a dietitian at a Women's Hospital, we see a lot of women with gestational diabetes and some women that just missed the mark for being diagnosed, but they failed the 1 or 2 hour blood sugar checks. As a Registered Dietitian, who works with these babies in the NICU, I think that we need to do a better job at educating our mothers about a healthy diet/lifestyle even if they just barely passed their glucose tolerance test. Often, if you pass it, then you physician doesn't really focus on diet or exercise and lots of Moms just assume they can continuing eating whatever and it won't have an affect on their baby. There was an article that I came across from Health Day talking about how diabetes during pregnancy can produce negative outcomes for your baby. This research was released at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes in Germany this week, I thought this was a well timed article and good for mothers to be informed. Your health, as the mother, has a huge impact on your child's birth and health outcomes. This is important for us to remind pregnant woman, that your health matters and making the effort to watch what you eat not only is helpful to you, but also your unborn baby.
Hopefully some of this information is helpful and you can share it with a pregnant friend or family member. I am had the chance to participate in my very own glucose tolerance test this past week and thankfully I passed with flying colors. All my blood work came back great and that was a huge relief. It is nice to be reassured that things are going well!