Scientists create simpler test for diagnosing gestational diabetes

A test that your doctor may perform between a woman's 24th and 28th week of pregnancy - or earlier - is one for gestational diabetes. This is standard procedure even if she did not have type 1 or type 2 diabetes before conceiving. In the past, this screening was always a multi-step process no matter what the patient's risk, but now, Austrian researchers from MedUni Vienna's Departments of Gynecology and Internal Medicine III have developed a new simpler test for the condition, according to a study published in the journal Diabetologia.

New method assesses a woman's risk first
The cutting-edge screening method aims to cut down the number of tests that women have to endure during pregnancy, as compared to the traditional protocol. A physician will first check an expectant mom's fasting blood sugar levels to make sure that there is no obvious problem. Then, he or she will inquire about the patient's medical history and use the collected information to assess the individual's risk for gestational diabetes. Finally, depending the analysis, only moms-to-be with high likelihoods of the condition will receive a glucose tolerance test.

The study discusses this new technique as an alternative screening method for pregnant women. It is currently standard protocol for physicians to perform the glucose intolerance test on all expectant moms. The most common test is the oral glucose intolerance test, which requires the patient to have blood drawn, drink a sugar-concentrated drink and then have more blood drawn repeatedly every 30 to 60 minutes for 3 hours, according to the National Institutes of Health. Not only is this time consuming, but requires multiple needle pokes, which may be uncomfortable for patients. Therefore, the new testing method will prevent low-risk individuals from having to receive it.

Why do women get some diabetes when they're pregnant?
So why do some women get diabetes when they're pregnant, as opposed to when they're not? This is because, when a female is expecting, she experiences changes in her hormone levels and weight gain, making it more difficult for her body to keep up with its need for insulin, which is what it needs to convert food into energy, according to the National Institute for Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

The agency branch states that between three and eight percent of all pregnant women in the U.S. have gestational diabetes.

Whether a woman has had diabetes her whole life or this is the first time, it's crucial that she gets diagnosed and receives proper treatment to avoid increased insulin excretion to the baby. This may cause more fat accumulation than normal, atypical growth and low blood sugar levels. Moreover, it raises both mom and child's risk for developing type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular problems and high blood pressure later in life.

Did you have to receive a glucose intolerance test to see if you had gestational diabetes during pregnancy? Do you wish there had been a way to assess your risk before undergoing the procedure? Leave your answers in the comments section!