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By Stephen Matthews For Mailonline 14:34 04 Aug 2017, updated 08:48 08 Aug 2017
Currently NHS guidelines recommend mothers-to-be are screened at 28 weeks
A new study says changing this to the 17th week would spot just as many cases
This would allow them to get treatment earlier and slash the risk of preeclampsia
Screening pregnant women for diabetes 11 weeks earlier could cut the risk of preeclampsia, new research suggests.
Gestational diabetes, also linked to giving birth prematurely, strikes a quarter of all obese pregnant women.ADVERTISEMENT>
Currently NHS guidelines recommend mothers-to-be are screened for the condition between 24 and 28 weeks.
But a new King's College London study implies changing this to the 17th week of pregnancy would pick up just as many cases - allowing for women to get treatment earlier and slashing their risk of the potentially deadly high blood pressure during pregnancy.
Evidence of gestational diabetes was clearly visible at this point, researchers said after studying 646 obese expectant mothers.>Resize
They noted how all of those who went on to develop the condition displayed a key marker - raised triglyceride levels.
These fats in the blood indicate that their body is failing to turn food into energy, signalling insulin resistance.
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This process leads to gestational diabetes, which occurs when a woman's body can't produce enough insulin to meet the extra needed in pregnancy.
GESTATIONAL DIABETES TESTING
During your first antenatal appointment at around weeks 8 to 12 of your pregnancy, your midwife or doctor will ask you some questions to determine whether you're at an increased risk of gestational diabetes.
If you have one or more risk factors for gestational diabetes – see Who's at risk, above – you should be offered a screening test.
The screening test used is called an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT), which takes about two hours.
It involves having a blood test taken in the morning when you've had nothing to eat or drink overnight (you can usually drink water, but check with the hospital if you're unsure). You're then given a glucose drink.
After resting for two hours, another blood sample is taken to see how your body is dealing with the glucose.
The OGTT is done when you're between 24 and 28 weeks pregnant. If you've had gestational diabetes before, you'll be offered an OGTT earlier in pregnancy soon after your booking visit, and another OGTT at 24 to 28 weeks if the first test is normal.
Alternatively, it may be suggested that you start testing your blood sugar yourself using a finger-pricking device in the same way as you did during your previous episode of gestational diabetes.
The new study, part-funded by Diabetes UK and published in Diabetologia, was welcomed by experts who hope it could lead to earlier screening.ADVERTISEMENT>
Welcomed by experts
Dr Elizabeth Robertson, from the charity, said: 'We now have a snapshot of what happens inside the body weeks before gestational diabetes is diagnosed.'
Oliver Jelley, editor of The Diabetes Times, told MailOnline: 'Gestational diabetes can result in serious consequences.
'Any research which sheds new light and gives us a further understanding of the condition is welcomed.'
Women are at increased risk of developing the potentially fatal preeclampsia if they have diabetes, according to the NHS, but the medical community are unsure why.
It's the medical term for high blood pressure during pregnancy, which can affect one in 20 expecting mothers, and can lead to fits, blackouts and vomiting.
These included triglycerides, insulin sensitivity and HbA1c levels, the King's College London researchers led by Dr Sara White said.
How was the study carried out?
Some 198 women went on to develop gestational diabetes, and all showed higher HbA1c levels - which are raised in sufferers.
They all also showed reduced insulin sensitivity - a sign of insulin resistance, the latest study showed.
Women can significantly reduce their risk of developing gestational diabetes by managing their weight, eating healthily and keeping active.
But if it does strike, both mother and child are at higher risk of developing full-blown diabetes in later life. However, it usually disappears after giving birth.ADVERTISEMENT>
It affects 120,000 expectant mothers in England and Wales each year, while it develops in around 9.2 per cent of US pregnancies, figures show.
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Source : http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-4760990/amp/Screen-pregnant-women-diabetes-11-weeks-earlier.html