30 Dec 2022

Disparities in follow-up diabetes tests after pregnancy - study

8:39 pm on 30 December 2022
An unrecognizable female doctor wears protective mask and gloves as she prepares to examine an unrecognizable pregnant woman.

Many women who experienced gestational diabetes were not given tests for type 2 diabetes after their pregnancy. Photo: 2021 Getty Images

Only half of women with gestational diabetes were tested for type 2 diabetes within six months of giving birth an Otago University study has revealed.

A 2009 review found women with gestational diabetes were seven times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those without.

The study, published in Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice, took anonymised data from the Ministry of Health's National Collections, and used it to identify 14,443 women who had gestational diabetes for the first time between 2005 and 2015.

Of those women, 41 percent had a recommended test for type 2 diabetes within three months of giving birth, 53 percent within six months, and 61 percent within 12 months.

The study's lead author Dr Andrew Sise said the health system needed to ensure women who had gestational diabetes were appropriately followed up.

"Really the next step is for areas of the health system, who are involved in gestational diabetes care and following these women up, to look into that and find out what's going on and why we aren't managing to follow them up as well as we could be," he said.

He said efforts to improve postpartum diabetes screening for women with gestational diabetes should ensure it was being done fairly across all population groups, as the study had found regional and ethnic disparities.

The study found that only 35 percent of Māori women received a recommended test within six months after giving birth.

Dr Sise said this figure added to the picture of major healthcare inequalities between Māori and non-Māori.

He said that depending on a person's ethnic group, or where they lived, there were large differences in how likely they were to receive a test.

In the regions, testing rates ranged from less than 20 percent in some areas of Aotearoa to more than 60 percent in others.

"These differences are really concerning and, unfortunately, these reflect on much broader issues."

Dr Sise said the healthcare sector could and should be doing much better to address inequities between healthcare provisions for Māori and non-Māori

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