Why do we need this research?
Diabetes that is diagnosed during pregnancy – also known as gestational diabetes – affects around 1 in 5 pregnant women in the UK. If gestational diabetes is not controlled, it can lead to problems for both mother and baby, such as the baby growing too fast in the womb.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the care provided to women with gestational diabetes. As pregnant women are considered a vulnerable group, care pathways have been modified to limit face-to-face contact and ‘virtual’ gestational diabetes clinics have been rolled out where a woman’s blood glucose levels and pregnancy are reviewed remotely. These changes were implemented quickly, and women and healthcare providers had to adapt rapidly. We want to find out whether these changes have altered the number of women being diagnosed with gestational diabetes and understand more about their pregnancy outcomes.
What’s happening in this project?
In order to limit face-to-face contact with pregnant women during the COVID-19 pandemic, new UK clinical guidelines were issued that have resulted in different tests and thresholds being used to diagnose and monitor gestational diabetes. Women are also being educated about gestational diabetes remotely.
Now, researchers funded by Tommy’s is looking at the health records of pregnant women in Scotland, both before and after the introduction of the new COVID-19 guidelines, to find out whether these changes have had an effect on the number of women being diagnosed with gestational diabetes. They also want to find out whether there have been any changes to pregnancy outcomes for both mother and baby.
The team will also speak to women with gestational diabetes, and their healthcare providers, to find out their views on the changes that have been made.
What difference will this project make?
This project will help us to understand whether the changes that have been made could be beneficial to women with gestational diabetes as we emerge from the pandemic, and whether these changes have been received positively by women and their healthcare providers.