Warning on diabetes risks in pregnancy

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MORE NEEDS to be done to deal with risks facing women with diabetes who become pregnant, a national audit warns today.

Women with the condition are at higher risk of suffering stillbirths and neonatal deaths and having babies born with congenital problems. Their babies are also likely to be larger.

Managing blood glucose levels is one of the main avenues to minimise risks as part of preparations for pregnancy and throughout gestation.

But the audit found only one in 20 women with Type 1 diabetes and one in five women with Type 2 diabetes achieved target blood glucose readings for early pregnancy in national guidelines.

Of 1,700 pregnancies monitored in England and Wales in 2013, nearly one in 10 women with Type 2 diabetes were taking medication which could have been harmful when they became pregnant.

And three in 10 babies required intensive or specialist neonatal care after birth - although this was half the number needing extra help in a survey a decade before.

Audit lead clinician, Nick Lewis-Barned, said there had been progress in pregnancy management since an official report in 2005 into the problems facing women with diabetes - but this was “at best modest”.

“The majority of women with diabetes in England and Wales enter pregnancy with avoidable increased risk, and many have unsatisfactory glucose control during pregnancy,” he said.

“This puts their foetus and themselves at further risk.

“Every diabetes healthcare community and maternity service needs to respond by developing local improvement initiatives to reduce pregnancy risk.”