Women with diabetes are not receiving sufficient support from their GPs and the NHS, says a report by the Confidential Enquiry into Maternal and Child Health (CEMACH).
'Diabetes in pregnancy: are we providing the best care? Findings of a national enquiry', showed that preconception care tends to be poor and uncoordinated, with many women not receiving preconception counselling, contraceptive advice and appropriate screening.
Less than half the women in the study took folic acid supplements prior to pregnancy and were not advised about blood glucose control, healthy eating and controlling their alcohol intake.
There was also evidence that the care provided to women with Type 2 diabetes was of a lower standard than those with Type 1 diabetes.
Pre-existing diabetes affects approximately 1 in 250 pregnancies in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It leads to a higher caesarean section rate and is associated with higher rates of stillbirth, abnormalities including heart and spine defects, and deaths in the first month of life.
“We welcome CEMACH’s recommendations as a way forward in providing the best possible care for women with diabetes when they are thinking of having a baby, throughout pregnancy and after childbirth," said Douglas Smallwood, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK.
“We need to work together to ensure that women with diabetes and people involved in their care are well equipped and are taking all necessary steps to minimise risks."
“The recommendations need to be implemented by health service professionals and commissioners alike to make sure that pregnancy and childbirth is a happy and safe time for all concerned.”
The report's recommendations address the need for better clinical care and diabetes management before, during and after pregnancy, easier access to specialist services and advice, mechanisms to identify at risk groups or individuals, and improved services.