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May 25, 2022 | Blood Tests

What is the One-Hour Glucose Test?

Pregnant woman sitting on couch looking at cell phone

Did you know that throughout the course of pregnancy, women can have more than 14 office visits for prenatal care? Additionally, those visits can come with more than 20 blood and/or urine tests1. That can add up to a lot of time spent with your healthcare provider in an office instead of preparing for your new journey. Some of these tests include a complete blood count (CBC) test, a blood type test, and tests that look at various diseases and medical conditions.

Gestational diabetes is one of the conditions that healthcare providers look for during pregnancy as it affects 2% to 10% of pregnancies2. Healthcare providers order a glucose screening test which can reveal if you’re at risk for gestational diabetes.

What is gestational diabetes?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says, “gestational diabetes occurs when your body can’t make enough insulin during your pregnancy”2. Insulin is a hormone made by your pancreas that lets blood sugar into cells in your body for use as energy. Because your body goes through many changes during pregnancy, insulin may be used less effectively, which is called insulin resistance. While all pregnant women experience insulin resistance in late pregnancy, some women have insulin resistance before pregnancy and are therefore more likely to have gestational diabetes2. The good news is blood sugar levels typically return to normal after the baby is born. While roughly 50% of women with gestational diabetes go on to develop type 2 diabetes, it’s not a guarantee and there are ways to lower this risk including watching your diet and reaching a healthy body weight after delivery2.

What is the one-hour glucose test?

The one-hour glucose test is a blood test that measures the glucose levels in your blood3. This prenatal blood test is also commonly called a glucose screening test or a one-hour glucose challenge. To complete the test, you first drink a chilled sugar mixture within five minutes. One hour later, your blood sample is collected, and glucose levels are evaluated at the lab. This test is usually completed between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy. If you have risk factors for diabetes or had gestational diabetes in the past, the test may be done during the first trimester instead3.

How to prepare for the one-hour glucose test

Thankfully there isn’t a lot you need to do to prepare for a one-hour glucose test. Talk to your healthcare provider to learn if you need to fast before the test. Some glucose tests will require you to fast, while for others it doesn’t matter whether or not you fast before collection. Additionally, you may want to consider having somebody from your support system sit with you. While most women don’t have side effects from the one-hour glucose test, because the glucose solution tastes similar to drinking a very sweet soda, some women feel uncomfortable, nauseous, sweaty, or lightheaded after drinking the solution4. In the chance that happens, it can be beneficial to have someone you trust nearby to help you if needed.

What do the results of the one-hour glucose test mean?

While the one-hour glucose tests are broken into normal and abnormal test results, in casual conversation they can be given a pass/fail rating. A normal result, or a passing grade, for the one-hour glucose test, falls in the range of 130mg/dL to 140mg/dL one hour after drinking the glucose solution. A result outside of this range doesn’t immediately mean that you have gestational diabetes or that you’ve failed the test. If the test result is greater than the range, the next step is to take another glucose test that is measured over a longer time period. Your healthcare provider may also have you repeat the one-hour glucose test. If you complete multiple glucose blood tests and still have results higher than normal, you have gestational diabetes4.

How to make a one-hour glucose test more comfortable

Fitting in all of the doctor’s appointments and lab work needed during pregnancy can be time-consuming when you’re already busy with other tasks. The one-hour glucose test isn’t really a fan favorite because of the potential discomfort and the fact it’s a bit time-consuming. However, Scarlet® can now make this prenatal blood test a little more comfortable. A Scarlet Health Professional can visit you at home with the glucose solution for the glucose tolerance test. After you drink it, they will wait in their car for almost an hour, and then collect your blood sample and deliver it to a BioReference laboratory for testing. You can continue your latest tv show binge, or cross items off your to-do list instead of sitting in a waiting room watching the clock wind down.

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