Study: diabetes testing necessary for expecting mothers

When a woman is expecting a child, she must undergo a variety of routine tests and procedures to ensure the safety of both herself and her child. According to a recent recommendation by a federal panel, one test that all pregnant women should have is a test for gestational diabetes. Experts have found that this routine test is key to preventing serious complications and birth related injuries to mothers and their children.

The recommendation for universal testing for gestational diabetes was made by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Although some of the USPTF's recommendations in the past have met with controversy, this particular recommendation has been widely accepted by obstetricians.

The Task Force made its recommendation in the most recent issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine. Research shows that out of the four million women in the U.S. who give birth each year, approximately 240,000 develop gestational diabetes. Even just a few years ago, in 2008, experts did not see a need for universal testing. Increases in both the number of women who have children after age 25 and those who are significantly overweight - both of which are significant risk factors for the development of the condition - make universal testing necessary.

Gestational diabetes puts the health of both mothers and children at risk. Children born to mothers with the condition are generally bigger, which can increase the risk of injury, including shoulder dystocia. In addition, they have a higher likelihood of both growing up to be obese and having diabetes themselves. Mothers with the condition have a much higher risk of preeclampsia, a precipitous increase in blood pressure that can be fatal.

The good news is that gestational diabetes is easy to test for, even though those with the condition generally do not exhibit any symptoms. Once doctors diagnose gestational diabetes, blood sugar is relatively easy to control through diet. Insulin and other drugs are required only in some extreme circumstances. The condition generally disappears after the child is born, but it can increase the mother's chances for developing diabetes later on in life.

The bottom line is that testing for gestational diabetes is easy, inexpensive and it can prevent significant injury. There is no reason for doctors not to make this test a routine part of prenatal examinations.

If you have suffered an injury due to the negligence of a doctor, consider speaking to an experienced medical malpractice attorney.