Thousands of pregnant women with diabetes are at risk of developing serious complications due to gaps in services, the National Pregnancy in Diabetes (NPID) audit has found.
The report showed that despite progress to improve care in some areas, women with diabetes still have significantly poorer outcomes in pregnancy than the general population.
Between 2017 and 2018, while the vast majority of women with diabetes went through pregnancy safely and childbirth without serious complications, 170 out of 8255 pregnancies recorded in the NPID resulted in stillbirth or neonatal death. This makes women with diabetes 3 to 4 times more likely to experience such serious complications when compared to the general population in England and Wales.
‘The audit highlights that women with diabetes – regardless of whether they live with type 1 or type 2 diabetes – are still at a far greater risk of serious pregnancy and childbirth complications. This needs to change, and clinicians can lead the way in turning the tide,’ said Nikki Joule, Policy Manager at Diabetes UK.
‘We’ve seen progress in this area – such as the decision to roll out continuous glucose monitoring devices for pregnant women in England with type 1 diabetes – which is a positive move. But service-wide interventions need to be made to reduce the number of devastating pregnancy complications for all women with diabetes.’
Additionally, audit showed that almost one in two babies of women with diabetes are large for their gestational age, and that admissions to neonatal units remain very high for babies of women with diabetes when compared to the general population.
The audit also found a disparity between socioeconomic backgrounds in pregnant women with diabetes. It showed that more than 50% of pregnant women with type 2 diabetes are from non-white backgrounds, and over 60% living in some of the most deprived socio-economic areas.
‘We know that more women are developing type 2 at a younger age, so it’s also important that healthcare professionals raise the issue with this group – and the steps they can take to have the safest pregnancy possible – before they begin trying to conceive,’ added Ms Joule.