The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force found an overall benefit to screening and treatment, including a reduced risk of preeclampsia in pregnant patients and of having an overly large baby and birth-related injuries to the newborn.
The task force's recommendation, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, noted that 96 percent of obstetricians screen for the condition, and that other medical groups also recommend screening. The group said women with no history of diabetes should be screened after 24 weeks of pregnancy.
This was the panel's first statement on gestational diabetes since 2008, when it found insufficient evidence to make a recommendation on screening. Since then, further studies have showed that the benefits outweigh the harms, said Dr. Wanda Nicholson, a past task force member who was instrumental in the recommendation.
"Now we have well-conducted clinical trials that clearly show a benefit for screening, where the results show a benefit for mom and baby," she said. "The additional studies that have been done now clearly show a benefit and minimal harm."
About 240,000 of the 4 million women who give birth each year develop gestational diabetes, a condition on the rise as obesity and other risk factors increase among pregnant women, the task force said. The condition occurs during pregnancy when the body does not produce enough insulin or use it correctly, leaving the body unable to convert starches and sugars from food into energy.
What you NEED to know about Gestational Diabetes.
Image: Pregnant woman, via Shutterstock