Jelly Bean Glucose Test

Jelly Beans versus Glucola for Testing Gestational Diabetes

Jelly Beans
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Gestational diabetes (GD) can have a negative impact on your pregnancy and the health of your baby. (It is important to note that gestational diabetes is not the same thing as a woman with diabetes who later becomes pregnant.)  It is important to be screened for gestational diabetes in your routine prenatal care. This test is typically done near the 28th week of pregnancy to screen for gestational diabetes.

 Glucola is a standard drink that is used when doing the glucose tolerance test (GTT) to give you 50 grams of sugar and see how your body deals with this sugar by testing your blood.

Two studies suggest that jelly beans may be an alternative to using glucola. Jelly beans are used in some practices in place of glucola, the sugary drink that is often referred to as tasting like a flat soda. Many women really dislike the glucola drink and have trouble getting it down or keeping it down. This can be problematic in testing. The jelly beans are usually prefered taste wise by women. There are other alternatives that have been suggested, like specific breakfasts, candy bars, etc., but the jelly beans seemed to be more similar to the contents of the glucola than some of the other methods. The first study done used Brach's jelly beans as the standard. You had to eat 18 Brach's jelly beans in a fairly rapid manner to get the same amount of sugar as found in the glucola in this study and the other study used 28 jelly beans.

There have been critiques written about the poor ability of these tests to determine whether or not this was a viable solution to using glucola for testing for gestational diabetes, particularly in a high risk population. So the vast majority of practitioners are still using the glucola for gestational diabetes screening.

If you are about to have the glucose testing done, it can't hurt to ask if there are alternatives to glucola. You might be surprised at the answer or you might be told that you're better off with the glucola. Either way, testing for gestational diabetes is an important part of the routine prenatal care. You and your baby will be safer because of it.

 Sources:

Boyd KL; Ross EK; Sherman SJ. Jelly beans as an alternative to a cola beverage containing fifty grams of glucose. Am J Obstet Gynecol, 1995 Dec, 173:6, 1889-92.

Dornhorst, A., & Frost, G. (2000). Jelly-beans, only a colourful distraction from gestational glucose-challenge tests. Lancet, 355(6205), 674.

Farrar D, Duley L, Medley N, Lawlor DA.Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015 Jan 21;1:CD007122. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD007122.pub3. Different strategies for diagnosing gestational diabetes to improve maternal and infant health.

Lamar ME, Kuehl TJ, Cooney AT, Gayle LJ, Holleman S, Allen SR. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1999 Nov;181(5 Pt 1):1154-7. Jelly beans as an alternative to a fifty-gram glucose beverage for gestational diabetes screening.

Palatnik A, Mele L, Landon MB, Reddy UM, Ramin SM, Carpenter MW, Wapner RJ, Varner MW, Rouse DJ, Thorp JM Jr, Sciscione A, Catalano P, Saade GR, Caritis SN, Sorokin Y. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2015 Oct;213(4):560.e1-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2015.06.022. Epub 2015 Jun 11. Timing of treatment initiation for mild gestational diabetes mellitus and perinatal outcomes.

Tieu J, McPhee AJ, Crowther CA, Middleton P. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014 Feb 11;2:CD007222. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD007222.pub3. Screening and subsequent management for gestational diabetes for improving maternal and infant health.

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