According to the American Diabetes Association, you’re considered at high risk for this condition (and should be screened early) if:
- You’re obese (your body mass index is over 30).
- You’ve had gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy.
- You have sugar in your urine.
- You have a strong family history of diabetes.
Some practitioners will also screen you early if you have other risk factors, such as:
- You’ve previously given birth to a big baby. Some use 8 pounds, 13 ounces (4,000 grams, or 4 kilos) as the cutoff; others use 9 pounds, 14 ounces (4,500 grams, or 4.5 kilos).
- You’ve had an unexplained stillbirth.
- You’ve had a baby with a birth defect.
- You have high blood pressure.
- You’re over 35.
In addition, a study published in the March 2010 issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology found an association between excessive weight gain during pregnancy – particularly in the first trimester – and the risk of gestational diabetes. Researchers found the risk highest in women who were overweight to begin with and in nonwhite women.
Keep in mind that many women who develop gestational diabetes don’t have any risk factors. That’s why most practitioners will order the screening at 24 to 28 weeks for all their pregnant patients as a matter of course.
That said, a small number of women might be considered at such low risk that they might not have to get tested. You’re part of this group if you meet all of the following criteria:
- You’re younger than 25.
- Your weight is in a healthy range.
- You’re not a member of any racial or ethnic group with a high prevalence of diabetes, including people of Hispanic, African, Native American, South or East Asian, Pacific Island, and indigenous Australian ancestry.
- None of your close relatives have diabetes.
- You’ve never had a high result on a blood sugar test.
- You’ve never had an overly large baby or any other pregnancy complication usually associated with gestational diabetes.