Gestational Diabetes Testing

12 January 2017
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What is Gestational Diabetes?

The body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose and causes insulin to be released.  The insulin pulls the glucose from the blood and transfers it to the cells to be stored for energy.  When a woman is pregnant, the body leaves some glucose in the blood so that it can be passed to the baby through the placenta and umbilical cord.

Gestational Diabetes is diagnosed when there is too high of an amount of glucose found in the blood while pregnant. It needs to be taken seriously, as it is associated with a risk of congenital defects and other complications.  Women who develop gestational diabetes are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27254892

Science has not found one specific cause for gestational diabetes, but the following are all possible links:

  • Obesity
  • Family Genetics
  • Diet high in carbohydrates and sugar
  • Stress
  • Autoimmune Issues
  • Pre-diabetes: blood glucose levels higher than normal, but not high enough to be labeled diabetes
  • African American, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic/Latina, or Pacific Islander American heritage
  • PCOS

 

The Dangers and Complications of Gestational Diabetes Include:

  • Increased chance of C-Section
  • Risk of needing a NICU
  • Shoulder Dystocia
  • Congenital Defects
  • Macrosomia: A larger than average (6-9lb) baby at full-term birth
  • Fetal Hyperinsulinemia
  • Jaundice
  • Preeclampsia

 

Gestational Diabetes effects between 5-9% of pregnancies and typically occurs in the last 20 weeks. As the baby grows, the placenta produces more insulin hormone blockers.  This leaves excess insulin in the mother’s body.

How is Gestational Diabetes Diagnosed?

You may experience signs of Gestational Diabetes before you receive a positive test result.  Some signs include:

  • Unusual thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Frequent vaginal, bladder, and skin infections
  • Blurred vision

It has become common practice for every pregnant woman to be tested for gestational diabetes.  It is unclear if this is truly necessary to test every woman, but because this condition can effect both mother and baby, women willingly oblige.

The American Pregnancy Association currently recommends what is called a “two step approach” for screening for gestational diabetes between 24-28 weeks gestation. The first step is a glucose challenge test (GCT).  During the GCT, the woman is given Glucola, a sugar drink, and then has her blood sugar level tested one hour after consuming said drink.  If the results are above the normal range, the woman will come back to perform a 3-hour version of the test.

Glucola: The Toxic Drink

Glucola includes ingredients such as brominated soybean oil (BVO), food dyes, sodium benzonate, BHA, sodium hexametaphosphate, dextrose, and ‘natural flavorings.’

All of these pose the question of safety with consumption.  Preservatives and food dyes alone should raise a red flag, but what’s worse?  This drink actually contains an ingredient that is found in flame retardant products. BVO accumulates in the organs of the body and has been associated with heart lesions, fatty changes in the liver, and impaired growth and behavioral development. Studies link BVO to neurological problems, fertility problems, changes in thyroid hormones and early puberty. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6665731

This drink should not be recommended for consumption for anyone, especially to a pregnant woman.

Alternative Test Options

Instead of consuming Glucola, these options may be more appealing:

  • 50 GM of Organic Grape Juice (or apple juice)
  • 50 GM of Jelly Beans (Just over 50 beans): (grab the non-GMO, naturally colored version)
  • Glucolift is a natural, non-GMO, artificial colors & flavors free glucose tablet. It’s made for people with type 1 diabetes who need to raise their blood sugar regularly throughout the day.
  • 50 GM Breakfast Meal: this is what I personal suggest, as it lets the body digest and process real food.  It can consist of several options, so talk to your birth team or research which you would most prefer.

Meals typically include eggs, juice, toast, and fruit, but some midwives or doctors include pancakes!  It is harder to be exact with glucose levels of real food, but the body processes real food the easiest and will give you the least chances of any stomach aches afterward.

You have the ability to request any of the above options for your test, or the right to refuse the test all together.