Underestimated risk: Stillbirth from gestational diabetes

Underestimated risk: Stillbirth from gestational diabetes

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Why pregnant women should definitely be examined for gestational diabetes

An investigation has now found that women are at increased risk of stillbirth due to the lack of adequate screening for gestational diabetes.

A recent study by the University of Manchester and the University of Leeds found that the lack of adequate screening for gestational diabetes leads to increased stillbirths because many women are not examined for the disease. The results of the study were published in the English language journal "BJOG".

Women have not been examined at all or not sufficiently

Pregnant women from 41 maternity wards across the UK participated in the study. It was found that not all women who were at high risk for gestational diabetes were examined as it should have been. 26 percent of women at increased risk of gestational diabetes due to an increased BMI or due to a specific ethnicity were not examined at all or not adequately. If left untreated, the condition can greatly increase the risk of complications.

What are the risks of gestational diabetes?

These complications include, for example, that babies grow taller than usual, which can lead to complications in childbirth, such as premature birth, preeclampsia and stillbirth. Affected babies can also be at higher risk of obesity and diabetes later in life. Gestational diabetes (high blood sugar that develops during pregnancy) occurs when the body cannot produce enough insulin to meet the additional needs during pregnancy.

291 women were stillborn

Of the participants examined, 291 women were stillborn compared to 733 women who had no such problem. Such stillbirth could be due to gestational diabetes. The risk group for women should be routinely examined after 26 weeks and a secondary compulsory test should be carried out later in pregnancy, the researchers advise. Far too many healthy, fully developed babies are dying. The researchers are of the opinion that many of these deaths could be avoided. It has been found that women who have gestational diabetes but are not diagnosed with the disease are four times more likely to stillbirth than women without the disease.

Only 74 percent of women followed important guidelines

The guidelines of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) advise all women with an increased risk to have blood screening. But only 74 percent of the women at risk who participated in the study had gone through such an examination. Women with an increased risk of gestational diabetes who were not examined according to the NICE guidelines also had an average higher risk of stillbirth.

Which women develop gestational diabetes?

Any woman can develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy, but there is an increased risk if the so-called body mass index (BMI) is over 30, women have previously given birth to a baby with a birth weight of 4.5 kg or more, or gestational diabetes has already occurred during a previous pregnancy. Even if parents or siblings suffer from diabetes or have family roots in South Asia, China or the Middle East, the risk is increased. If any of these apply to you, you should have gestational diabetes screening during pregnancy.

Glucose tolerance test is offered free of charge in Germany

Gestational diabetes can cause serious complications in pregnancy. It is important that every woman with symptoms is recognized so that she can receive the appropriate care and support. In Germany, a so-called glucose tolerance test is offered in the 24th to 27th week of pregnancy. First, affected women conduct a pre-test, in which an increased value does not automatically mean a diagnosis. The costs of the glucose tolerance test are covered by the statutory health insurance companies and the test result is entered in the mother's passport. (as)

Author and source information

Video: High Risk Pregnancy: Diabetes (January 2023).