Screening for Gestational Diabetes should be performed earlier

Gestational diabetes is one of the most common complications of pregnancy and affects approximately 1 in 5 women. At its most severe the condition is associated with an increased risk of stillbirth and miscarriage.   One other risk factor of gestational diabetes is that the baby can be large for the gestational age which can cause significant problems during labour.

Current NHS Guidelines suggest that a Glucose Tolerance Test should be undertaken between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy in order to test for gestational diabetes. In reality screening for gestational diabetes often takes place during the 28th week of pregnancy.

A study by the University of Cambridge of 4069 women has found that the foetus was already affected by the 28th week. The study was published in the Journal of Diabetes, and showed excessive foetal growth had already started by the usual time of screening at 28 weeks.

Women testing positive for gestational diabetes at that 28-week stage were twice as likely as other mothers to have an abnormally large foetus. Mothers who were obese as well as having gestational diabetes had five times the risk of a large foetus.

However, the study did not find any signs of large babies at 20 weeks.

Prof Gordon Smith, one of the researchers, stated:

Our findings indicate that [testing] should be brought forward to 24 weeks and that would still be consistent with existing guidelines.”

If you or a member of your family have concerns regarding a possible delay in diagnosing gestational diabetes and need advice about raising your concerns with the NHS, please contact a member of our Medical Negligence Team on 0800 316 8892 or e-mail