More than three quarters of pregnant women with diabetes had higher than recommended blood glucose levels, a report by the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership has found.
The National Pregnancy in Diabetes Audit look at 2537 women who had type 1 or type 2 diabetes who were pregnant in England and Wales in 2014. It found 85% of women with type 1 diabetes and 64% with type 2 had high levels of blood glucose. This increases risk of stillbirth, neonatal death and babies being born with congenital abnormalities.
‘It is deeply worrying that so many women with diabetes do not have their condition under control during the early stages of pregnancy, as this is putting the health of the baby at risk,’ said Chris Askew, chief executive of Diabetes UK. ‘The clear message of this report is that many women with diabetes are not getting the advice and support they need when it comes to planning to become pregnant.’
The report also looked at the number of women with diabetes who took supplements of folic acid during pregnancy. It found that half of women with Type 1 and two thirds of women with Type 2 said that they did not take folic acid during their pregnancy. The report also found that 10% of women with type 2 are take medication that is potentially harmful to the baby while they are pregnant.
‘The stark fact is that in too many cases this is leading to tragic consequences such as death or disability of the baby with a third of babies born to mothers with diabetes needing intensive or specialist neonatal support,’ Mr Askew added. ‘The NHS needs to act urgently to make sure all women with diabetes, who might become pregnant, are aware of the risks of having high blood glucose levels in early pregnancy and are supported by specialist healthcare professionals to achieve good blood glucose control.’