One of the most important tests a pregnant woman should have is for gestational diabetes, a condition in which women either aren’t producing enough insulin or develop a resistance to insulin. Gestational diabetes develops in up to 10 percent of expectant women, and the test is performed at 24 to 28 weeks of pregnancy.
When a woman is pregnant, the placenta develops to supply essential nutrients to the baby. The placenta also produces several hormones that are needed to sustain pregnancy, some of which will interfere with the mother’s ability to metabolize glucose, or sugar. Glucose is metabolized with insulin, and during pregnancy, a woman will need up to three times as much insulin to control her glucose levels.
“Pregnancy causes an insulin resistance, because [the body] wants to maximize the sugar that’s in the blood so that more can go to the baby,” OB-GYN Dr. Lisa Masterson explains.
A woman has an increased chance of developing gestational diabetes if she:
• Had gestational diabetes during a previous pregnancy.
• Previously gave birth to a baby who weighed more than 9 pounds.
• Is overweight.
• Is 25 years of age or younger.
“It all comes down to decreasing your risk with diet and lifestyle, which is how we deal with diabetes,” Dr. Lisa says.