All pregnant women should be screened for gestational diabetes after 24 weeks of pregnancy, according to updated guidelines from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF).
The update replaces a 2008 opinion in which the USPSTF found insufficient evidence to recommend for or against routine screening. Studies since then have found enough benefits to recommend screening after 24 weeks, the USPSTF noted, but not sufficient evidence to recommend testing every woman earlier in pregnancy.
Physicians may want to do earlier screenings for women who are at high risk for developing the disease.
Gestational diabetes is diabetes that begins during pregnancy. According to background information in the USPSTF’s statement, it occurs in about 6 to 7 percent of pregnancies. Gestational diabetes usually disappears after childbirth, but it raises the mom’s risk for type 2 diabetes later in life.
Gestational diabetes has become more common in recent decades, due in part to the rising numbers of women who are overweight or obese when they become pregnant. Excess weight is a major risk factor for gestational diabetes, along with a family history of the disease.
Studies since the USPSTF’s 2008 statement have found that treating women for gestational diabetes after 24 weeks of pregnancy can lessen the risk of health complications for both the mother and the infant.
The current USPSTF recommendation does not apply to women already diagnosed with diabetes.
You can find more information about gestational diabetes, including additional risk factors, here.