Screen ALL pregnant women for gestational diabetes and high risk women earlier
Breaking research from the University of Cambridge today has announced that women who are obese should be screened earlier for gestational diabetes:
Maternal obesity and diabetes in pregnancy result in early overgrowth of the baby in the womb
The babies of obese women who develop gestational diabetes are five times as likely to be excessively large by six months of pregnancy, according to new research led by the University of Cambridge. The study, which shows that excessive fetal growth begins weeks before at-risk women are screened for gestational diabetes, suggests that current screening programmes may take place too late during pregnancy to prevent lasting health impacts on the offspring.
Read more here
Late diagnosis and undiagnosed cases are a huge problem putting babies at risk
We see thousands of women come through our support group and too often we see ladies who have been diagnosed very late and baby already has excessive growth, just as the research at Cambridge suggests.
In many of these cases there have been symptoms which could suggest gestational diabetes and yet their concerns are dismissed as general pregnancy symptoms or women have to fight to be tested which is simply wrong.
Gestational diabetes can be diagnosed by either taking a glucose tolerance test or by monitoring blood sugar levels at home.
For more information on diagnosing gestational diabetes, you can read more here.
The postcode lottery
Depending on where you live you may or may not be screened for gestational diabetes during pregnancy.
In Cambridgeshire, they screen all pregnant women for gestational diabetes and offer a blood glucose test at 8-12 weeks of pregnancy, but this is not the case across the rest of the UK and Ireland.
In the majority of areas, only women who have known risk factors are screened and the risk factors can also be different.
Different target levels are used for diagnosing which also poses problems too.
Some women may be referred for testing if they have symptoms of gestational diabetes, but unfortunately this is not the case for many.
It is important to know that not all women suffer any symptoms, however some women may experience some symptoms such as the following:
- Blurred vision
- Feeling thirsty
- Feeling shaky or unsteady
- Nauseous when needing to eat
- Urinating more frequently
- Recurrent infections, such as urinary tract infections (UTIs) and thrush
Known risk factors of gestational diabetes
You have an increased risk of gestational diabetes if:
- your body mass index (BMI) is 30 or more
- you have previously had a baby who weighed 4.5kg (10lbs) or more at birth
- you had gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy
- you have PCOS (poly cystic ovarian syndrome)
- you have a family history of diabetes – one of your parents or siblings has diabetes
- your family origins are South Asian, black Caribbean or Middle Eastern
But what if you have none of the risk factors?
Obesity is mentioned in the media a lot with regards to gestational diabetes and whilst being obese means you are at higher risk of developing the condition, we see a lot of ladies who are not obese, who are very fit and healthy get gestational diabetes and so there is a huge concern that many more ladies are not being screened, putting their baby at risks of many complications.
We are currently gathering data from our post GD mothers (ladies who have had their babies) regarding many aspects of gestational diabetes and their pregnancy through this survey. To this point we have had 1,042 responses.
When asked to select which of the following risk factors our ladies had, this is what we have found so far:
- BMI (body mass index) of 30 or more 53.9%
- Family history of diabetes 46%
- Family origins are South Asian, black Caribbean or Middle Eastern 4%
- Previously given birth to a baby who weighed 10lb or more 4.8%
- Had gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy 18.6%
- Have PCOS (Poly cystic ovarian syndrome) 13.3%
- NO RISK FACTORS LISTED ABOVE 15.9%
- *0.4% already had diabetes previously to pregnancy
We will update this information once we have received more data.
Not just obese women get gestational diabetes!
Obesity is a risk factor but does not mean you will definitely get gestational diabetes if you are obese. But likewise, bearing in mind that almost 16% of our ladies said they had no risk factors, but they had luckily been diagnosed with gestational diabetes hence being part of our survey, how many ladies out there are going undiagnosed?
There are also many ladies out there that do not know about gestational diabetes, believe it is not a serious condition and refuse to be tested.
Screen all pregnant women for gestational diabetes, not just the higher risk groups! If they can do it in Cambridgeshire successfully, then they can do it everywhere!
Learn about the complications
Please take a look at the complications linked to gestational diabetes. We have real life stories which show how serious gestational diabetes can be if it is not diagnosed, or not diagnosed early enough.
We have a main page which shares the complications of gestational diabetes. You can read this information here.
- Abby's story is a heartbreaking story of gestational diabetes not being diagnosed and causing stillbirth. You can read her story here.
- Ceira's story shows a story of undiagnosed versus diagnosed gestational diabetes with her 2 pregnancies. You can read her story here.
- Sophie's story shows what can happen when gestational diabetes is diagnosed late, causing excessive growth of baby and shoulder dystocia during delivery. You can read Sophie's story here.
Screen ALL pregnant women for gestational diabetes and those at higher risk earlier. Don't let any more mother's suffer the consequences of undiagnosed gestational diabetes!
Help us raise awareness
Please help us raise awareness of gestational diabetes by sharing this post. Gestational diabetes can be controlled if diagnosed and monitored. It isn't something that 'just fat women get' as many may have been led to believe. ANYONE can get gestational diabetes and it can be a serious condition. Please help us spread the word!
Screen ALL pregnant women for gestational diabetes and at risk groups earlier in the UK and ROI