Pregnancy Diabetes: Not Enough Affected Mothers Make Use of Aftercare Services

Women with pregnancy diabetes (gestational diabetes, GDM) are at greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes after giving birth. Therefore, the affected mothers can be tested for diabetes after giving birth. However, only around 40 percent of them make use of the available diabetes screening.

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A team headed by DZD scientist Prof. Andrea Icks from the German Center for Diabetes Research studied how many women with GDM made use of the available postpartum diabetes screening. The team evaluated the data from 12,991 women diagnosed with gestational diabetes (nationwide GestDiab-Register) when pregnant during the study period between 2015 and 2017.1 The result: More than 60 percent of women with GDM did not undergo screening after giving birth. In particular, women with a migrant background, those with a higher body mass index (BMI), smokers, and women with poor fasting glucose levels and HbA1c rarely made use of the screening on offer.

The reasons for the low uptake are varied and may rest not only with the patients but also with the service providers and the health care system. National and international studies suggest that socioeconomic status, e.g., level of education, has a significant influence on overall health-related behavior. In a study of the correlation between social disparity and diabetes, the Robert Koch Institute identified similar findings.2 A lack of coordination between family doctors, diabetologists, and gynecologists may also play a role.

“Further research focusing on this topic is definitely required,” concludes Andrea Icks. As part of a current study, a research network under her leadership is studying patient and system-related reasons for the (non-) uptake of available screening services to derive a healthcare model for the future. 3

1 Postpartum screening of women with GDM in specialised practices: Data from 12,991 women in the GestDiab register, Diabetic Medicine. 2022;39:e14861.;

2 Soziale Ungleichheit und Diabetes mellitus – Zeitliche Entwicklung bei Erwachsenen in Deutschland, Journal of Health Monitoring 2019 4(2); DOI 10.25646/5980