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Task Force Recommends Screening Women for Gestational Diabetes Late in Pregnancy

Previous recommendation found insufficient evidence to support routine screening

BHM Edit Staff | 1/16/2014, 6 a.m.
USPSTF recommends routinely screening women for gestational diabetes after 24 weeks of pregnancy Thinkstock

All pregnant women should be screened for gestational diabetes, but not until after the 24th week of pregnancy. This new recommendation comes courtesy the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) and was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

About 6 percent of American women develop symptoms of diabetes during pregnancy. But in certain populations, especially minority populations, the rate can be as high as 25 percent. Left untreated, gestational diabetes increases the risk of poor outcomes for mother and child. Women with gestational diabetes may develop life-threatening pre-eclampsia, and the fetus may be really big, leading to complications, including problems with delivery and possible injury to the newborn.

Doctors typically advise their patients diagnosed with gestational diabetes to increase physical activity, make dietary changes and monitor glucose levels. In some cases, medications may be prescribed.

Though nearly all pregnant women in this country are currently screened for gestational diabetes, the USPSTF previously didn’t recommend routine screening, citing inadequate evidence to support it. The American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Diabetes Association and the Endocrine Society all recommend screening after 24 weeks.

But a new review of the evidence has led the USPSTF to reverse its previous findings. The report also notes that there may be specific circumstances in which a physician may choose to do screen for gestational diabetes before the 24th week of pregnancy, including a family history of the disease or obesity.