Risks Increased as Testing ‘Too Late’ for Diabetes in Pregnancy

Scientists are urgently warning that the testing for diabetes needs to be brought forward from 28 weeks to 24 weeks. The condition, if left untreated can incredibly increase the chances of a stillbirth and further cause other complications for the babies long term health. Evidence has suggested that the mothers foetus can already be affected by the disease at 28 weeks when screening takes place. Consequently, a significant number of stillbirths could sadly have been avoided.


Gestational Diabetes is incredibly common and affects 18 of every 100 pregnancies. Extra amounts of sugar in the bloodstream acts as “baby fuel” which leads to extreme growth inside the womb. This condition hugely increases the likelihood of the baby being born abnormally large thus leading to difficulties in delivery, bone fractures and the risk of the child becoming obese and suffering diabetes themselves in later life.

These urgent warnings coincide with recent evidence implying that by 28 weeks, women who had tested positive for the disease, their foetus will have already started to excessively grow in size. In conjunction, mothers who are obese themselves as well as having gestational diabetes are astonishingly five times more at risk of developing a large foetus.

Professor, Gordon Smith explains how the screening for diabetes during pregnancy is too late, “Our findings indicate that it should be brought forward to 24 weeks and that would still be consistent with existing guidelines”. With further research, a second screening to be had earlier in the pregnancy is also recommended to identify early onset.


‘Early is key’, Dr Daghni Rajasingam, from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, explains, “This study emphasises the importance of early detection and diagnosis”. Identifying the disease early within the pregnancy allows mothers the opportunity to make lifestyle changes, including a healthy diet and moderate levels of exercise.

These factors can have a significantly positive effect on the mothers and the baby’s life. Coupled with this evidence, Janet Scott, from the Stillbirth charity Sands emphasises how “Good risk assessment is crucial to avoiding harm to mothers and babies” and significant findings can potentially lead to “better antenatal care for these high-risk pregnancies”.


It is essential to encourage women to get tested and take immediate actions, that could consequently save their baby’s life and allow their child to lead a happy and healthy lifestyle.

Source: BBC