Women undergoing prenatal care with a physician are tested for gestational diabetes at 28 weeks gestation or at the beginning of their third trimester. Testing involves drinking a glucose solution drink and waiting two to three hours before blood is drawn as a sample. Women who have risk factors for type 2 diabetes may be tested earlier in the pregnancy, Dr. Hirth says.
There are risk factors that increase a woman’s chances of developing gestational diabetes, the NIH says. These include being overweight, having previous pregnancies with gestational diabetes, previously giving birth to a baby nine pounds or heavier, the presence of pre-diabetes, and having a hormone disorder called polycystic ovary syndrome. Genetics play a part as well. Women who have a parent or sibling with type 2 diabetes should be tested as well as women of certain ethnicities.
The good news is that women have power to lower their risk for the disease, Dr. Hirth says.
“The best way to reduce your risk for gestational diabetes is to come into your pregnancy fit and healthy,” he says. “If you come into your pregnancy with normal weight and eat healthy and continue to exercise throughout your entire pregnancy then your risk for gestational diabetes is very low.”
Women who are diagnosed with gestational diabetes can work closely with their health care providers to properly control the disease and keep their baby healthy. Providers can also help them plan for what foods are best to eat to keep blood glucose in a healthy range. Physical activity can help control gestational diabetes, and help reduce her risk for developing type 2 diabetes later in life. The NIH recommends 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week, but women should speak with their physician first to get approval.
“We all have control over the choices we make during the day,” Dr. Hirth says. “And almost every doctor will tell you that it begins by eating healthy and exercising regularly. It really does make a difference.”
ABOUT PREMIER HEALTH SPECIALISTS: Premier Health Specialists is one of the largest groups of specialty care practices in Southwest Ohio. More than 130 physicians serve patients in a variety of specialties such as bariatrics, breast care, burn and wound, cardiology, cardiothoracic surgery, cardiovascular-thoracic surgery, general surgery, gynecologic oncology, hand and reconstructive surgery, infectious diseases, maternal-fetal medicine, neurosciences, obstetrics and gynecology, orthopedic surgery, orthopedic spine surgery, ophthalmology, palliative care, physiatry, plastic surgery, podiatry, psychology, pulmonology, sports medicine and urology. Premier Health Specialists is part of Premier Health, which includes Miami Valley Hospital, Good Samaritan Hospital Dayton, Atrium Medical Center and Upper Valley Medical Center. For more information, visit www.premierhealthspecialists.org.