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Gestational diabetes – lack of postnatal care

Study finds only 13% of women who had gestational diabetes receive the right care after giving birth
WebMD UK Health News
Medically Reviewed by Dr Sheena Meredith
female doctor consulting female pregnant patient

14th March 2013 - More than 80% of women who have had gestational diabetes are missing out on crucial postnatal care according to a new study.

Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that affects women during pregnancy. According to Diabetes UK it affects around 3.5% of pregnancies in England and Wales. It usually occurs after the first trimester of pregnancy and in most cases can be controlled through diet. However, following delivery, women with gestational diabetes are at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes - most commonly in the first five years after the birth.

Correct care

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence recommends that women who have had gestational diabetes are monitored post-birth, receiving blood glucose tests six weeks after delivery and then annually.

However, research has found just 13% of women who have had gestational diabetes receive the right care after giving birth.

Lead researcher Dr Andrew McGovern says in a prepared statement: "The short-term follow up of women with gestational diabetes appears to be haphazard with no set date of recall, which goes against national guidance. There are a number of strategies which could be implemented in primary care to ensure that women are not left at unnecessary risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

"This study shows the power of using electronic records to identify gaps in quality, especially in primary care. These same records could be used to create recalls and reminders to close this quality gap and make sure that women receive the care they need."

Phenomenal rise

The study was carried out by researchers from the University of Surrey and has been presented at the Diabetes UK Professional Conference 2013. It used data on nearly 800 women with gestational diabetes from GP practices across England. It found that only 102 (13%) of them were recorded as having received one or more blood glucose tests following the delivery.

Results showed that for those women whose blood glucose levels were tested, 8% were outside of normal levels, 2% had developed type 2 diabetes and 6% showed signs of pre-diabetes.

Simon O’Neill, from Diabetes UK, says in a press release: "With gestational diabetes, it is crucial for healthcare professionals to monitor the mother’s health closely following the birth of her child. This means those women who are found to be at increased risk of type 2 diabetes can get the support they need to reduce this risk and ultimately help to prevent the onset of a lifelong condition.

"For those who do develop type 2 diabetes, they could get the advice and treatment they need as soon as possible to prevent the complications associated with the condition."

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