Testing for Pregnancy-Linked Diabetes Should Be Routine, Experts Say
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THURSDAY, Nov. 14 (HealthDay News) -- All pregnant women should be screened for diabetes at their first prenatal check up, according to new recommendations from an international group of endocrinology experts.
The test should be done before women are 13 weeks pregnant or as soon as possible after that milestone is reached, according to new clinical practice guidelines released by the Endocrine Society to help doctors improve the level of care for pregnant women with diabetes.
Up to one in five women may develop gestational diabetes -- a form of diabetes that begins during pregnancy. Traditional testing methods, however, only detect about 25 percent of these cases. As a result, the experts caution that many pregnant women with gestational diabetes are going undiagnosed, which could increase their risk of having an overly large baby and complications during delivery.
"Many women have type 2 diabetes but may not know it," Dr. Ian Blumer, chair of the guidelines task force, said in a society news release. "Because untreated diabetes can harm both the pregnant woman and the fetus, it is important that testing for diabetes be done early on in pregnancy so that if diabetes is found appropriate steps can be immediately undertaken to keep both the woman and her fetus healthy."
The guidelines also recommend using lower blood sugar levels to diagnose gestational diabetes, which will allow doctors to detect more cases.
"Once the diagnosis is made, treatment can be given to help the fetus grow normally," said Blumer, from the Charles H. Best Diabetes Center in Whitby, Ontario.
"Thanks to important new studies of the interplay between diabetes and pregnancy, diabetes specialists and obstetricians have identified best practices for caring for pregnant women with this condition," Blumer added. "The guideline synthesizes evidence-based strategies to support women who have diabetes during pregnancy."
Other recommendations from the Endocrine Society task force include the following:
The new guidelines were published in the November issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.
-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
SOURCE: Endocrine Society, news release, Nov. 5, 2013