universal diabetes tests for all expecting moms says panel

In 2008, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force — the volunteer panel dedicated to “improv[ing] the health of all Americans by making evidence-based recommendations about clinical preventive services” — declared that there was insufficient evidence to support making a recommendation that all pregnant women undergo screening for gestational diabetes.

For those unfamiliar with gestational diabetes, it is similar to other forms of diabetes in that it involves how the body’s cells metabolize sugar (i.e., glucose) and can result in high blood sugar levels that can adversely affect both the expectant mother and baby.

Indeed, women with gestational diabetes are at an elevated risk of developing a condition known as preeclampsia, which is a dramatic (and possibly fatal) jump in blood pressure, and they are also more likely to have to undergo a cesarean section as babies born to women with this condition are often larger.

This is also potentially problematic because a c-section is a major surgical procedure complete with its own set of risks. Furthermore, if medical professionals opt to deliver a bigger baby traditionally instead of via c-section, there is also an elevated risk of birth injuries/birth trauma such as shoulder dislocation, broken collarbones and oxygen deprivation.

In recognition of these dangers and the growing body of scientific evidence, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has officially performed an about-face on the subject of screening for gestational diabetes.

In the most recent edition of the Annals of Internal Medicine, the panel recommends that all pregnant women undergo screening — a glucose tolerance test — to determine whether they have gestational diabetes. This step, they argue, will enable pregnant women to learn about a potential problem as soon as possible and start taking the necessary steps (proper diet, blood sugar monitoring, etc.) to help manage their gestational diabetes and keep their babies safe.

The panel’s recommendation came in light of evidence showing that roughly 240,000 of the 4 million women who give birth on average each year — 7 percent — develop gestational diabetes, and that more women over the age of 25 are having babies.

What are your thoughts on the panel’s recommendation? Is it long overdue or only necessary now in light of shifting demographics?

Remember that a legal professional may be able to help you pursue the justice you need and deserve if your child has suffered an otherwise avoidable birth injury caused by medical negligence.

Source: KPLU, “Doctors recommend universal diabetes testing for pregnant women,” Nancy Shute, Jan. 14, 2014

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