When she was pregnant with my friend, our neighbor developed gestational diabetes. Diabetes isn’t that common in her family and the only other person who ever developed it was her grandpa during the later years of his life. Her mom caught it pretty quick since the symptoms were noticeable and definitely not the normal symptoms of pregnancy, but some women don’t catch it until much later and by the time they do, it may have irreversible consequences that could be on to their children.

This is why many experts are now calling for diabetes screening during prenatal visits. Doctors say that many women have type 2 diabetes without knowing it, or they may develop gestational diabetes. Both types can cause serious health problems for pregnant women and the sooner the disorder is caught, the less likely it will cause permanent damage to the mother and child. Earlier this month, the Endocrine Society issued a Clinical Practice Guideline (CPG) to help health care professionals provide the best care to pregnant women who have diabetes. This includes screening for any type of diabetes during the first prenatal visit, or about 13 weeks before gestation.

Undiagnosed diabetes may cause complications such as macrosomia which means having an overly large baby. It can also cause jaundice and hypoglycemia.

"To address this problem, the CPG advocates for using lower blood glucose levels to diagnose gestational diabetes," says Dr. Ian Blumer of the Charles H. Best Diabetes Centre in Whitby, Ontario, Canada and chair of the task force that authored the guideline. "Using these lower levels will allow for the detection of gestational diabetes in many women when it would otherwise go undetected using the older diagnostic thresholds. Once the diagnosis is made, treatment can be given to help the fetus grow normally. Thanks to important new studies of the interplay between diabetes and pregnancy, diabetes specialists and obstetricians have identified best practices for caring for pregnant women with this condition.”

Some other guidelines included in the CPG include medical nutrition therapy for all pregnant women with type 2 or gestational diabetes as well as daily moderate exercise for at least 30 minutes. If women with diabetes cannot maintain this lifestyle, the CPG suggests that blood glucose-lowering medication should be considered. Also, if women with preexisting type 1 or 2 diabetes wish to conceive, they should go through a detailed eye exam to check for diabetic retinopathy. If damage to the retina is found, the authors recommend that they have treatment before conceiving

Source: Endocrine Society (2013, November 5). Experts recommend universal diabetes testing for pregnant women at first prenatal visit. ScienceDaily.