Lack of vital postnatal care for gestational diabetes patients

Thu, 14 Mar 2013
New research has found that just more than 8 in 10 women who have had gestational diabetes fail to receive the right car after giving birth.

Researchers from the University of Surrey study examined data on nearly 800 women with gestational diabetes mellitus from GP practices across England, and found that only 102 (13 per cent) had received one or more postnatal blood glucose tests six weeks after delivery and then annually, as recommended by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).

Among the women whose blood glucose levels were tested, 8% had values outside of normal ranges, 2% had developed type 2 diabetes and 6% showed signs of pre-diabetes.

Dr Andrew McGovern, lead researcher of the study, said: "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."

Simon O'Neill, of charity group Diabetes UK, which presented the study yesterday at the Diabetes UK Professional Conference 2013, said monitoring and supporting gestational diabetes patients following the birth of their child can help identify women at risk of developing type 2 diabetes so that they can "get the support they need to reduce this risk and ultimately prevent the onset of a lifelong condition".

He added: "Tests should be offered as a matter of course, and new mothers with gestational diabetes should feel comfortable asking their doctor for follow-up checks. It is only by doing this that we can give mothers who have had gestational diabetes the best possible chance of not going on to develop Type 2 diabetes."

Gestational diabetes affects around 3.5 per cent of pregnancies in England and Wales, and usually occurs in the second trimester of pregnancy.
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