To find a doctor, call 800-667-5356 or click below:

Find a Doctor

Request an Appointment

left banner
right banner
Smaller Larger

BIDMC To Start Using New Test For Gestational Diabetes

By Michael Lasalandra
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Correspondent

Starting September 1, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center will be among the first hospitals in the United States to begin using a new and improved test to screen and diagnose gestational diabetes in pregnant women. 

Babies of women with gestational diabetes are often larger, and that can cause complications during pregnancy and delivery, including vaginal tears, postpartum hemorrhage and a situation where the baby can become stuck during delivery.

The new test is done in one step, rather than two steps as is the case with the test now in use. It is also more sensitive. Women who are diagnosed with the condition are put on a program of exercise, dietary changes and insulin, if necessary. It is estimated to affect about four to eight percent of pregnant women, with the risk highest among Asians, African-Americans, Latinos, Indians and Native Americans. The new test is more sensitive to abnormalities in glucose metabolism and will approximately double the number of women who are diagnosed with gestational diabetes.

Babies of women with gestational diabetes are often larger, and that can cause complications during pregnancy and delivery, including vaginal tears, postpartum hemorrhage and a situation where the baby can become stuck during delivery.

In addition, babies born to mothers with the large babies can have low blood sugar and may be at higher risk of a number of medical problems later in life, including hypertension, diabetes and heart disease.

Gestational diabetes is brought on by pregnancy itself, the result of hormones produced by the placenta that make women more resistant to insulin. In addition, these women have an underlying resistance to how their bodies use insulin, which is often due to being overweight or obese, a condition that predisposes them to gestational diabetes.

Currently, pregnant women are universally screened for the condition, using a "two step" test given at between 24 and 28 weeks. The first part of the test -- the initial glucose challenge test -- is a simple screening test that checks glucose levels one hour after the patient drinks sugar water.

A blood sugar level below 130 to 140 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) is usually considered normal on a glucose challenge test. If the blood sugar level is higher than normal, it means the patient has a higher risk of gestational diabetes.

If so, the woman comes back within a week and undergoes a series of similar tests following an eight-hour fast. After the fast, the patient has her blood sugar checked, and then drinks another sugar solution, with a higher concentration of glucose, after which her blood sugar level is checked every hour for three hours. If at least two of the readings are elevated, a diagnosis of gestational diabetes is made.

The new test skips the initial screening test. Patients simply come in once and do the second part of the test. Blood is taken just three times. More than convenience is the fact that the new test is more sensitive and will pick up more women, particularly those with milder cases.

Above content provided by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.

Posted February 2011

Contact Information

Maternal-Fetal Medicine
OB/GYN
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Stoneman 7-Center for Maternal-Fetal Medicine
330 Brookline Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
617-667-4836
617-667-2231

RELATED LINKS