May 11, 2020
Pregnant women are traditionally screened for gestational diabetes in the second trimester. A new study, however, suggests that high-risk women would benefit from an earlier screening. The researchers found that earlier diagnosis and treatment led to less excess gestational weight gain.
Gestational diabetes can occur during pregnancy. It affects the pregnant woman's blood sugar levels and puts her and her baby's health at risk.
Women with gestational diabetes are more at risk to develop high blood pressure and preeclampsia. They also are more likely to need a C-section. Their babies are generally bigger and are at higher risk for preterm birth and complications like breathing difficulties and low blood sugar.
Risk factors for gestational diabetes include obesity, lack of physical activity, polycystic ovary syndrome, prediabetes and family history of diabetes.
In this study, pregnant women who were obese or had a histories of gestational diabetes were screened at 10 weeks, still in the first trimester. Of those women those diagnosed with gestational diabetes, they gained about 5 lb. less gestational weight than women diagnosed during their second trimesters.
The researchers also found that obese women who were diagnosed and treated earlier were better able to meet the Institute of Medicine guidelines for overall gestational weight gain of less than 20 lb.
The study included 5,391 pregnant women who delivered babies between 2010 and 2013 at one institute. Multiple pregnancies were excluded. The study was published in Journal of Women's Health.
"For women at high risk for gestational diabetes, earlier screening during the first trimester of pregnancy can provide a safety net to ensure a safer pregnancy," said Dr. Susan G. Kornstein, editor-in-chief of Journal of Women's Health and executive director of the Virginia Commonwealth University Institute for Women's Health in Richmond, Virginia.
The data "should encourage earlier screening for glucose intolerance and the initiation of lifestyle changes and appropriate treatment to prevent excessive weight gain," she added.