Is the glucose tolerance test (diabetes test) for pregnant women risky for the baby?

Updated on: Aucune révision

No, there is no risk.

On the contrary, if this test is not done and you have diabetes or glucose intolerance during pregnancy, you and your baby are at risk of developing long-term health problems.

In North America, most centers prefer that all pregnant women do this test. There are several factors that increase the risk of developing diabetes during pregnancy. For example, as more women want to become pregnant later in life, age and weight are risk factors to consider. On the other hand, women with no risk factor can also develop gestational diabetes. This is why it is better to test all pregnant women.

The test, done between the 24th and 28th week of pregnancy, involves drinking a large amount of sugar (50 g). By analyzing the blood after drinking the sweet liquid, we evaluate the body’s ability to handle sugar.

Some people believe this test represents a sugar overload that is unnecessary for the body. In fact, this test contains as much sugar as 400 ml of 100% pure juice, a cup and a half of grapes or a medium iced cappuccino (Tim Horton’s). Many people consume similar amounts of sugar in their daily routine.

Without screening, hyperglycemia (high rates of blood sugar) during pregnancy exposes the baby to the following risks:

  • high birth weight (over 4 kg or 8 pounds and 13 ounces)
  • hypoglycemia at birth
  • jaundice after birth
  • a dislocated shoulder or other complications at birth
  • premature birth due to high volumes of amniotic fluid
  • a heart and/or lung defect.

It is therefore recommended for all pregnant women, whether or not they are at risk, to take the glucose tolerance test.


American college of obstetrician and gynecologist (AGOC) Practice Bulletin. Gestational diabetes. (2013). Obstetrics & Gynecology. 122(2), 406-416.

Berger, H. & Sermer, M. (2009). Counterpoint: Selective Screening for Gestational Diabetes Mellitus. Diabetes Care. 32(7), 1352-135.

Canadian Diabetes Association Clinical Practice Guidelines Expert Committee. Canadian Diabetes Association 2013 Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Prevention and Management of Diabetes in Canada. (2013) Canadian Journal of Diabetes. 37(suppl. 1), S1-S212.

Society of obstetrics and gynecology of Canada (SOGC) Practice guidelines. (2009). Screening for gestational diabetes mellitus. Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology Canada. (121), 1-10.



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