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A Short Guide to Pregnancy Diabetes and Normal Blood Sugar Levels for Women

Some women develop temporary diabetes during pregnancy. A pregnancy glucose test is usually performed around the 28th pregnancy week to find out if your glucose levels are within the normal range.Normal blood sugar levels for women

What Are Healthy Blood Glucose Levels?

Normal blood sugar levels for women range from a minimum of 4 millimoles (mM) per liter to 8-10 mM at the highest end. Under 4mM is considered low (hypoglycemic) and can be a sign of diabetes. If the blood glucose levels drop too low, the body cannot perform its usual activities. If the amount of glucose in the blood of a diabetic or hypoglycemic person (a person with low glucose levels) drops too low, some of the symptoms include shaking or trembling, feeling hungry, sweating, irritability, anxiety, palpitations or a quick pulse, getting pale or a tingling feeling on the lips. More severe symptoms include confusion, difficulties to concentrate and irrational behavior. A “first aid” treatment in a hypoglycemic attack is to eat or drink something that contains sugar.

Gestational Diabetes in Pregnant Women

A small percentage of pregnant women (between 2 and 4%) develop gestational diabetes. These women do not usually have any of the typical diabetes symptoms, such as tiredness, a need to urinate often or excessive feelings of thirst. Women who are more at risk of gestational diabetes are those who have diabetes in the family, overweight women, those who smoke or spend a lot of time around people who smoke, women over 30 years of age or women who have previously given birth to a large baby (one that weighed more than 4,5 kg).

Testing the Glucose Level with GTT

Glucose levels in urine are often measured routinely in the first weeks of pregnancy, but these tests are not reliable in detecting diabetes. A glucose tolerance test pregnancy is usually done between the 26th and the 30th weeks to check for gestational diabetes. There are two types of tests: a random glucose test and a fasting glucose test.

The gtt test is used to check the body’s ability to process sugar (glucose). The test usually measures the blood sugar level before you eat or drink something sugary and after you have eaten it. You will have to avoid eating anything for some hours before the test and you will then be asked to drink a sugary drink or eat something sweet to check your body’s ability to deal with sugar. The test can be used to find out if you have diabetes or if you have a poor glucose tolerance. Some people who cannot tolerate glucose well suffer from a condition called pre-diabetes, and may be at risk of developing diabetes later in life.

All expectant mothers should have their glucose levels tested between the 26th and the 30th week of their pregnancy. This test is usually offered as a routine procedure around the 28th week and is important as pregnancy diabetes (unlike diabetes types 1 or 2) usually does not have any visible symptoms and can be detected only by screening.