Every pregnant woman with at least one risk factor, such as a family history of diabetes or a BMI of 30 or more, should be screened for gestational diabetes.
A failure to detect and treat gestational diabetes can increase the risk of birth complications for both the mother and baby, including the risk of stillbirth.
However, a recent study suggests that screening at 28 weeks, which is when the majority of tests currently take place, is happening too late, after the foetus has already been affected. It is recommended that screening is brought forward to 24 weeks which would allow the mother to implement lifestyle changes sooner and have a positive impact upon their health.
We still see cases where there was a failure to recognise the need to screen the mother for gestational diabetes at all. This study suggests that there is also more that could be done to improve the screening process after the initial decision to screen has been made.
Tests for diabetes in pregnancy - which affects the developing baby - are taking place too late, warn scientists. Untreated, the condition can increase the risk of a stillbirth and other complications. Most screening takes place at 28 weeks, but a University of Cambridge study of 4,069 women showed the foetus was already affected by then. Charities said gestational diabetes was involved in a "significant number" of potentially avoidable stillbirths. Gestational diabetes is common and affects up to 18 in every 100 pregnancies. The extra sugar in the bloodstream acts as "baby fuel" leading to rapid growth inside the womb. Most babies are normal and healthy but the condition increases the likelihood of a large baby, which can be difficult to deliver, suffering bone fractures.