Routine Screening: glucose tolerance test



When pregnant, there are several screenings or tests that are advised. Pregnant people must research the risks and benefits to these screenings and decide if they are appropriate for their pregnancy.
As a pregnant person who has hired a birth team, you are in control of what screenings/routines/protocols/etc that you consent to.
One such screening is the Glucose Tolerance Test (GTT). Generally, this screening is done half way through your pregnancy and is used to rule out gestational diabetes.
Gestational diabetes is when you have diabetic symptoms (your pancreas is not processing sugar efficiently), but only during pregnancy.

You are at an increased risk of having gestational diabetes if you are:

  • overweight
  • over 25 (and moreso, if you’re over 40)
  • related to someone with diabetes
  • have a history of gestational diabetes
  • previously birthed a baby over 8lbs 13oz

No matter your risk for contracting gestational diabetes, you will likely be told to have the glucose tolerance test.
This screening involves consuming the equivalent of ten to twenty teaspoons of sugar (there is no standard amount). Approximately an hour later (the timing can vary), glucose levels are tested. If you are deemed high (“high” is not a standardized figure), a three- hour standardized test will be required. This standardized test involves a fasting glucose level test, and then 100g of glucola, followed by glucose level testing at regular intervals.
Of the women who “fail” the one hour screening, 15% will test positive in three hour standardized test.

The primary concern if you are found to have gestational diabetes is that your baby will grow larger than its supposed to and its blood sugar level will drop precipitously after birth (as it loses its constant oversupply of sugar from its diabetic parent). There is also an increased risk of the mother and baby becoming diabetic later in life.
Women with gestational diabetes will be required to test their blood sugar levels at home, up to four times a day. The goal is to keep blood sugar levels within a range of normal. This can be done through diet and exercise. If diet changes and exercise are insufficient, insulin will be advised.

As a mom who has had three pregnancies with gestational diabetes – I know the whole process can be stressful! Drop me a note if you want to talk gestational diabetes – I could write a book, I’m sure <3


For more information:
General gestational diabetes info and some thoughts about the glucoloa drink
Information from Sarah Buckley, MD
Information and research analysis from Michael Odent, OB

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