Study: Many women aren't being screened for gestational diabetes

MADISON, N.J. — Nearly one-third of pregnant women are not being screened by a laboratory test for gestational diabetes mellitus (gestational diabetes), according to a study of more than 900,000 American women published online Tuesday on the Obstetrics and Gynecology site.

The study, conducted by scientists at Quest Diagnostics, suggests that a large number of women are not being screened according to medical guidelines and unknowingly may put themselves and their babies at risk for complications from gestational diabetes. According to the report, only about 1-in-5 women who developed gestational diabetes while pregnant were screened for diabetes within six months of completing their pregnancy.

"We were particularly alarmed to find that women who develop the condition while pregnant are not being screened for diabetes postpartum, despite overwhelming evidence that they are at great risk for developing diabetes later in life," stated Jon Nakamoto, medical director at Quest Diagnostics.

The investigators found that in the study population, 4.9% of women screened between the ages of 18 and 40 years — or about 41,000 women nationally — had gestational diabetes. Women weighing more than 275 lbs. during their pregnancy were 12% less likely to be screened, but 348% more likely to have gestational diabetes than those weighing between 100 lbs. and 124 lbs. Women with a maternal weight of between 250 lbs. and 274 lbs. were 6% less likely to be screened, but 300% more likely to have gestational diabetes than women in the low-weight group.

The positivity rate for gestational diabetes in Asian-American women was 8.7% compared to 4.1% for African-American women. Hispanic-American women had a positivity rate of about 5.4%, Caucasian-American women 4.2%.

The study now is online and expected to appear in the January 2011 print issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology.