Scientists have warned that gestational diabetes is being diagnosed too late, causing preventable injuries and stillbirths.

Gestational diabetes is when a woman develops diabetes for the duration of her pregnancy. The high glucose levels in her blood feed into her unborn baby, making it grow to an abnormally large size. If affects around 18 in every 100 pregnancies.

If the condition is not managed properly, it can make the delivery difficult, as the baby can become stuck due to its size. This can result in fractures and stillbirths.

Screening for gestational diabetes usually takes place at 28 weeks, but scientists at the University of Cambridge say this is too late.

A study of 4,069 women with gestational diabetes showed that the foetus had already undergone abnormal changes by 28 weeks, meaning screening needs to take place at an earlier stage in the pregnancy.

Professor Gordon Smith, who helped carry out the research, said: “The recommendations are that screening should take place at some point between 24 and 28 weeks, but in practice a lot screen at 28 weeks.”

“Our findings indicate that it should be brought forward to 24 weeks and that would still be consistent with existing guidelines. And we should possibly being doing a second, earlier, screening test for early onset of the disease – but that needs further research.”

It is thought these changes could reduce the number of stillbirths in England and Wales, with some charities warning that gestational diabetes contribute to “a significant number” of avoidable stillbirths.

Janet Scott, from the stillbirth charity Sands, said: “We know from recent enquiries that failure to screen for gestational diabetes currently plays a part in a significant number of potentially avoidable stillbirths at term.”

“Good risk assessment is crucial to avoiding harm to mothers and babies and we welcome these important findings which have real potential to inform better antenatal care for these high-risk pregnancies.”

Diabetes claims

If your diabetes was not managed properly by medical practitioners, causing you or your baby harm, please get in touch with us at Glynns Solicitors.

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