Glycosuria and pregnancy: everything you need to know about screening and treatment

Glycosurie et grossesse : tout savoir sur le dépistage et le traitement

Have you ever heard the term glycosuria ? It refers to the presence of glucose (i.e. sugar) in the urine. This test may or may not reveal the presence of diabetes. We'll tell you all you need to know in this article!

Definition: what is glycosuria?

Glucose is essential for the body to function properly. In fact, it's the main source of energy for the human body's cells, and the muscles and brain need it to function. Glucose is a sugar found in a wide range of foods: cakes, candies, orange juice, bread, rice, pasta, milk, etc.

Glucose passes into the bloodstream during the digestion process. For a healthy person, the blood sugar level logically rises after eating a sweet food, and the pancreas secretes a hormone called insulin. This hormone regulates glycemia (the level of sugar in the blood) by bringing sugar into the cells so that it can be converted into energy or stored. Conversely, glycosuria refers to the level of sugar present in urine.

Normal blood sugar levels

For a woman who is not pregnant, the glycosuria level should be between 0.1 mmo/L and 0.9 mmo/L. It is therefore very low. In pregnant women, the level should not exceed 15 mg/dl (this level may vary slightly from one laboratory to another).

High or low blood glucose

To measure blood glucose levels in pregnant women, the first step is to come to the laboratory on an empty stomach for an initial blood test. Then, the pregnant woman must drink a sugar solution , so that the laboratory can measure her blood glucose 1 hour after the drink, and 2 hours later. Blood glucose levels are considered normal if they are below :

  • 0.92 g/L fasting (5.1 mmo/L) ;
  • 1.80 g/L one hour after taking the sweetened beverage (10 mmo/L);
  • 1.53 g/L two hours after sugar intake (8.5 mmo/L).

From which month of pregnancy should a glycosuria test be carried out?

The glycosuria test is carried out systematically every month during pregnancy. It is performed in the morning urine, at the same time as the proteinuria test.

If glucose is found in the woman's urine, this may be a sign of gestational diabetes.

How is glycosuria screened?

Glycosuria screening is carried out every month during a urinalysis. It's a classic test that involves urinating (in a bottle provided by your doctor or laboratory) in the morning on an empty stomach. Once collected, the urine is analyzed using a test strip that reacts in the urine. This strip can indicate whether or not you've tested positive for carbohydrates, and whether the threshold is high or low.

If the test is positive, further tests, such as a blood test, will be necessary to determine the blood sugar level and provide a reliable diagnosis.

It should also be noted that even if the result of the glycosuria test is normal, it is possible to prescribe a fasting hyperglycemia test to a pregnant woman in order to detect potential diabetes.

What are the risks of gestational diabetes?

Gestational diabetes generally appears during the second trimester and disappears after delivery. It's a common condition, affecting around 1 in 10 women. This type of diabetes can present risks, both for the pregnant woman and for the baby or fetus. It must be monitored and treated.

Depending on the stage of pregnancy, abnormally high glycosuria may reflect two pathologies:

  • Type 1 or 2 diabetes , which was present before pregnancy (if the abnormality is detected during the first or second trimester);
  • Gestational diabetes if the abnormality is discovered after 22 weeks of pregnancy.

Although the glycosuria test is a good indicator for detecting diabetes mellitus or gestational diabetes, it is not a sufficient measure: a blood test is required to be sure of the diagnosis of these pathologies.

For pregnant women

The main risks associated with gestational diabetes for pregnant women are the risk of hypertension, the risk of premature delivery and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes after delivery.

For the fetus or baby

The baby is exposed to the risk of macrosomia (babies weighing more than 4kg at birth), neonatal hypoglycemia and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes later on.

What causes diabetes during pregnancy?

There are several factors that can contribute to gestational diabetes:

  • A high BMI (body mass index): women who are overweight or obese are at greater risk of developing gestational diabetes;
  • Genetic predisposition to type 2 diabetes;
  • A history of gestational diabetes (women who developed gestational diabetes during their first pregnancy have a 50% chance of developing it again during a subsequent pregnancy).

Women suffering from diabetes during pregnancy are under increased surveillance, as hyperglycemia can cause numerous maternal complications and fetal malformations.

Confirmed diabetes: how to lower blood sugar levels?

Once the diagnosis has been confirmed, blood glucose levels must be brought down rapidly, by limiting the intake of sugary foods, for example. Treatment of gestational diabetes is mainly based on dietary changes: a diet that limits fast sugars (jam, sugar, honey, etc.) as much as possible. If diabetes is still present despite the implementation of a specific diet, insulin treatment may also be prescribed to regulate blood sugar levels.

FAQs on glycosuria and pregnancy

Is gestational diabetes serious?

Gestational diabetes needs to be monitored, as it can lead to complications during pregnancy. However, this condition is very well treated when diagnosed.

Should a glycosuria test be performed on an empty stomach or after eating?

The glycosuria test should be performed on an empty stomach. If you perform the test after eating, it will be distorted by the quantity of carbohydrates assimilated after a meal.

What level of glucose should not be exceeded in gestational diabetes?

A normal glucose threshold is below 15 mg/dl. Above this level, gestational diabetes may be present.

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The information contained in the articles on is general information only. Although reviewed by health professionals, this information is not error-free, does not constitute health advice or consultation, and is not intended to provide a diagnosis or suggest a course of treatment. Under no circumstances may this information be used as a substitute for medical advice or consultation with a healthcare professional. If you have any questions, please consult your doctor.