Outside pregnancy, HbA1c analysis is used for monitoring, screening for and diagnosing diabetes and prediabetes. During pregnancy, the role for HbA1c analysis is not yet established. Physiological changes lower HbA1c levels, and pregnancy-specific reference ranges may need to be recognised. Other factors that influence HbA1c are also important to consider, particularly since emerging data suggest that, in early pregnancy, HbA1c elevations close to the reference range may both identify women with underlying hyperglycaemia and be associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes. In later pregnancy, HbA1c analysis is less useful than an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) at detecting gestational diabetes. Postpartum, HbA1c analysis detects fewer women with abnormal glucose tolerance than an OGTT, but the ease of testing may improve follow-up rates and combining HbA1c analysis with fasting plasma glucose or waist circumference may improve detection rates. This article discusses the relevance of HbA1c testing at different stages of pregnancy.
Keywords: Diabetes; Gestational diabetes; HbA1c; Postpartum; Prediabetes; Pregnancy; Screening.