Researchers call for improvements to diabetes screening after birth

by Barbara Hewitt on February 24, 2014

Post natal screening of women who developed gestational diabetes should be improved, according to researchers who found that very few actually receive the necessary tests.

Women who develop diabetes during pregnancy, known as gestational diabetes, face a much higher risk of going on to develop diabetes but few are tested for the condition after giving birth.


Follow-up tests after birth were recorded in only 35% of cases, only a fifth of the women

Whilst blood glucose levels usually return to normal following pregnancy, in some women, elevated blood glucose may persist as type 2 diabetes and because of this risk women should be given fasting plasma glucose tests at six weeks after delivery, followed by annual testing.

But researchers at the University of Surrey found that just one in five gestational diabetes patients in England are tested after birth, despite the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines saying they should be tested six weeks after delivery.

The group are calling for a change in the advice which dates back to 2008 and say there is room for major improvements in postnatal screening of women with gestational diabetes.

The researchers looked at data on 473,772 women at 127 GP practices in England, and identified 2,016 cases of gestational diabetes. A follow up within six months was performed in only 18.5% of cases. In this time, three women developed diabetes and seven had abnormal blood glucose levels.

Even when follow ups did take place, the type of test was recorded in only 35% of cases and only a fifth of these women were given longer term, annual follow ups.

The researchers say that both short term and long term follow up for women with gestational diabetes is ‘poor’ and the NICE guidelines have had little effect on screening rates.

According to the researchers, a different approach to the NICE guidelines is now needed to improve follow up screening in women with gestational diabetes, as early intervention in prediabetic women is vital for delaying or preventing the onset of type 2 diabetes.

‘The study shows that substantial improvements in post gestational diabetes screening rates are required in England, despite the release of national guidelines. Effective ways of improving screening rates are urgently needed in primary care,’ the research report says.

‘Strategies to improve long term follow up could include compiling a gestational diabetes recall register, setting up computer alerts to facilitate annual recall then informing females in writing of their need to be screened, and the inclusion of screening in pay for performance programme targets in the UK,’ it adds.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: