Women who are diagnosed with gestational diabetes during their pregnancy show a much lower risk of stillbirth compared with women with the condition who are not diagnosed, according to researchers.
It is already known that diabetes which develops during pregnancy, known as gestational diabetes, can lead to health complications for the baby, including stillbirth.
But, teams from the University of Leeds and the University of Manchester have found evidence to suggest that those who are diagnosed with the condition experience a similar rate of stillbirth to women with healthy blood glucose levels.
By comparison, women who developed the condition but were not diagnosed were four times more likely to experience stillbirth.
Dr Tomasina Stacey, who led the study at the University of Leeds, said: “The good news is that women with gestational diabetes have no increase in stillbirth risk if national guidelines are followed for screening, diagnosis and management.
However, Dr Stacey said that the guidelines are “not always followed and some women therefore experience avoidably higher risk”.
The trial involved comparing the symptoms and care of nearly 300 women who had experienced a stillbirth to just over 700 women, who had not lost their baby across 41 maternity units in England.
The study highlights the importance of following guidelines to ensure that gestational diabetes is diagnosed and treated.
At the moment, current guidelines set by the National Institute for Care Excellence (NICE) stipulates that all women at a higher risk of gestational diabetes should receive blood screening for the condition.
Co-author Professor Alexander Heazell, from the University of Manchester and Clinical Director of Tommy’s Stillbirth Research Centre, said: “It’s not clear why some women missed out on being screened or diagnosed for gestational diabetes, but this needs to be improved.
“Gestational diabetes can cause serious complications in pregnancy. It’s important that we detect every woman with symptoms so she can receive the appropriate care and support.”
The findings have been published in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.