Tests for diabetes in pregnancy – which affects the developing baby – are taking place too late,” BBC News reports.
Screening often takes place during the 28th week, but a new study suggests that diabetes-related changes to the baby can occur before that time.
Diabetes that develops during pregnancy – known as gestational diabetes – is one of the most common complications of pregnancy, affecting around one in five women. It has been linked to various complications, such as the baby being large for its gestational age, which can cause problems during labour. Gestational diabetes can also increase the risk of stillbirth and miscarriages.
Due to the widespread nature of the condition, guidelines for England recommend that pregnant women are screened for it between the 24th and 28th week of their pregnancy.
Read about screening for gestational diabetes.
The study found that some babies of women with diabetes during pregnancy had already started to grow abnormally large for their age by the time the women were diagnosed at 28 weeks or later.
The authors expressed concern, as screening often takes place around the 28th week period, not the 24th.
The lead author of the study suggested that the lower estimate of current guidelines would be better to aim for.
The study didn’t show whether any changes could be picked up at 24 weeks, so we don’t know whether changes in the guidelines would improve outcomes. Other studies may be able to hone in on the optimum target age.