Postpartum Testing to Detect Persistent Dysglycemia in Women With Gestational Diabetes Mellitus

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Abstract

The rate of gestational diabetes has doubled, and identifying the 30% with persistent postpartum dysglycemia (prediabetes or diabetes mellitus) is important because low-cost interventions have been proven to prevent overt diabetes mellitus, improve health for women, and potentially decrease the risk for birth defects in future pregnancies. Consensus guidelines continue to recommend a 4- to 12-week postpartum 2-hour oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) despite persistent reports that only 35% of women complete the test. Physician ordering rates can improve, but the largest barriers to postpartum testing are clearly patient-related. Initiatives to improve OGTT testing rates have been only moderately effective and required allocation of staff time, diverting resources from other clinical areas. Alternative testing models using single-draw tests that bypass patient barriers show promise for improving the diagnosis of postpregnancy dysglycemia. Specifically, evidence is emerging in the pregnant and nonpregnant populations that, compared with the OGTT, the single-draw hemoglobin A1C test may identify more patients with prediabetes, bypasses patient barriers to testing such as the need for fasting, and has less laboratory variation compared with the OGTT or fasting plasma glucose. The risk–benefit focus should shift from comparing individual test performance statistics presuming the OGTT to be the “gold standard” to data reporting the ability of a test to facilitate identification of patients. We review the evidence regarding postpregnancy testing and make recommendations for strategies to improve the identification of dysglycemia and postpregnancy health.

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