This is the second time around I've refused to do the standard glucose screening test that is recommended in
for all pregnant women. It involves swallowing 50 gr of glucose in one gulp after a night's fast; many women are found "suspicious" of gestational diabetes and sent forward to do another test, this time with 100 gr of glucose. Israel
Why did I refuse this test, which is done for free here and is considered to be perfectly safe?
1. I don't believe it's necessary for me. Last time I was pregnant and this time too, I've had doctors tell me a lot about the horrors of undiagnosed gestational diabetes. I agree that if you have gestational diabetes it's very important to know. However, they try to present it as though each pregnant woman has equal odds of getting gestational diabetes, which is simply not true. Like for pretty much every medical condition, there are risk factors.
If, like me, you are young, not overweight (and have not gained excessively during pregnancy), do not have any family history of Type 2 diabetes, do not have high blood pressure, have not previously delivered large babies, your fasting blood glucose is normal and you have not had glucose detected in your urine, you are in the low-risk group and the chances of you getting gestational diabetes are slim. I'm not saying this means you won't get gestational diabetes. But your chances are far, far lower than of someone who is overweight and has family history of Type 2 diabetes. My doctor had tried to make it sound as though it doesn't matter – which was, of course, a lie made to frighten me into doing the test.
For most women, gestational diabetes is kept under control with a healthy, balanced diet and exercise. Only some need insulin shots. However a healthy diet and exercise should be the practice for every pregnant woman anyway. I have the advantage of a degree in nutrition, which helps me not only to keep a balanced diet, but to also be well aware of potential signs of gestational diabetes.
2. I suspect it's not completely risk-free. 50 gr of glucose equals, to my estimate, to about 10 teaspoons of sugar. I do not eat a lot of simple sugars and do not touch soft and fizzy drinks. As far as I remember I have never swallowed 10 teaspoons of sugar in one go, certainly not after a night's fast; taking in so much sugar in one go isn't natural for our bodies and I wouldn't say it's healthy for a pregnant woman. Yes, I have heard the arguments that our bodies are sturdier than that, that it's just one time, that the test shouldn't be associated with any damage. It is admitted there is a risk your blood glucose may drop drastically low after it skyrockets when you take the glucose, but doctors usually brush this off. However if your blood glucose drops very low you may faint. During pregnancy, our bodies are far more sensitive. Has someone really researched the long-term risks? I realize I'm just speculating here, but I find it extremely off-putting to load my body with a large quantity of glucose in one go.