Ketones in the Urine During Pregnancy – Causes, Tests & Prevention

Pregnancy brings a whole new outlook on life. There is excitement, no doubt, but there are pregnancy symptoms and health concerns too. Some symptoms of pregnancy are quite common and can be dealt with easily with simple remedies, while some might need medical attention. Similarly, pregnancy-related health conditions are better diagnosed early on for proper treatment. One condition, which can be distressing for pregnant women is having ketones in the urine. In this article, we shall talk about what ketones are, its causes, treatment and prevention. What are we waiting for then? Let’s begin with what ketones in urine are.

What Are Ketones?

Our body gets energy and glucose from the food that we consume. The changing pregnancy hormones can prevent the cells from using up the glucose, leading to a glucose deficiency. In case of the deficiency of this element, the body starts using up the fat reserves to attain the required energy. This condition leads to the production of ketones.

What Causes Ketones in the Urine During Pregnancy?

Some of the causes that contribute to the presence of ketones in the urine are:

  1. Dehydration.
  2. A diet lacking in nutrition or a low-carb diet.
  3. Skipping snacks or meals during pregnancy.
  4. Not eating meals on time or taking long gaps between meals.
  5. Pregnancy symptoms like severe vomiting.
  6. Metabolic disorders.
  7. Fasting while pregnant.
  8. Development of insulin resistance during pregnancy.

Once the cause is known, testing can be done to know the levels of ketones to make the diagnosis.

Diagnosis and Tests

A gynaecologist will test the levels of ketones in the urine through urine and/or blood test. If the ketone levels are high, additional tests will be suggested to rule out gestational diabetes.

Now, you are probably wondering who should take the ketone test. Read on to know more.

Who Should Take a Ketone Test?

Most of the times, gynaecologists would suggest would-be-mothers to take a ketone test if they show any of the symptoms given above, but women with Type 1 diabetes are more susceptible to developing ketones than those with a Type 2 blood sugar condition. Therefore, you should take the test if you’re pregnant and:

  • Your blood sugar levels remain steady at 250 mg/dl for two days in a row.
  • You’re sick or injured.
  • You want to start exercising.

How to Test for Ketones At Home

Yes, it’s possible to check the ketone levels at home, too! For this, you need to buy a testing strip from a pharmacy. As soon as you wake up in the morning, collect your urine in a clean container and dip the strip into it. Take the strip out and leave it undisturbed for a few minutes. Compare the colour of the strip to the colour guide on the testing kit. The result ranges from negative to large.

Can the Presence of Ketones in the Urine Harm Your Baby?

A pregnant woman looking into the bathroom mirror

If present in small amounts, ketones don’t pose a risk to the pregnancy. But high levels of ketones can lead to pregnancy complications like ketonuria. Higher levels of ketones in the urine may also be indicative of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA).

Some studies indicate that babies born to mothers with high ketone levels may develop learning disabilities.

How Can the Production of Ketones Be Prevented?

You can prevent the production of ketones during pregnancy by eating a balanced and nutritious diet throughout. Avoid fasting and have meals on time. Refrain from taking long gaps between meals. Instead, satiate your hunger with healthy snacks.

While you’re pregnant, it’s important to keep yourself hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Taking adequate rest is also important during pregnancy. If you have any concerns about your diet, consult a nutritionist for proper guidance. Maintaining a food journal or diary can prove helpful in keeping a control on your calories.

Traces of ketones in the urine during pregnancy isn’t a serious issue. However, the presence of higher levels of ketones requires proper diagnosis and suitable treatment to prevent any likely complications.


Also Read: Proteins during Pregnancy

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