Diagnosing Diabetes Is Easy

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In fact, it's one of the simplest disorders to diagnose. A simple finger prick yields a couple of drops of blood that are analyzed for the presence of sugar. In nonpregnant adults, the criteria for diagnosis is as follows: a blood-sugar level of greater than 200

mg/dl, a fasting blood-sugar level of greater than 126 mg/dl, or a two-hour blood-sugar level of greater than 200 mg/dl during an oral glucose tolerance test.

All pregnant women should be tested for GDM between 24 and 28 weeks of gestation. The testing, called an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT), is painless and reliable. A blood-sugar level is obtained, and then the patient drinks a glass of sugary liquid. One hour later, a second blood-sugar reading is obtained. If a mom-to-be has a fasting blood sugar of greater than 126 mg/dl, or a random blood sugar of greater than 200 mg/dl, she meets the criteria for diabetes.

It's very important to diagnose GDM because, when treated with proper diet and possibly insulin therapy, there's a decreased risk of problems for the fetus. Complications of GDM include a higher Cesarean rate, larger babies, and chronic high blood pressure.

Are you at risk for diabetes?

The risk of coming down with Type 1 diabetes isn't as low as you might think. In the general population, the disorder has a rate of 1 in 400 to 1 in 1,000. But there's definitely a genetic component at play, and relatives of those with diabetes have a 1 in 20 to 1 in 50 chance of developing the condition. In addition to the genetic predisposition, though, it appears that an outside trigger is necessary, and so far, experts can only speculate on what that trigger might be. One theory is that an environmental trigger is the culprit. Another is that susceptible individuals who come down with Type 1 diabetes may have an allergy to cow's milk. This is one reason why pediatricians discourage parents from giving their baby cow's milk before the first birthday. No matter what the trigger is, the presence of diabetes can be first identified by the presence of antibodies against the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas.

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