Optimizing postpartum care for the patient with gestational diabetes mellitus

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Abstract

Gestational diabetes mellitus poses well-established risks to both the mother and infant. As >50% of women with gestational diabetes mellitus will develop type 2 diabetes mellitus in their lifetime, performing postpartum oral glucose tolerance testing is paramount to initiation of appropriate lifestyle interventions and pharmacologic therapy. Nonetheless, test completion among women with gestational diabetes mellitus is estimated to be <50%, with particularly low rates in Latina patients, as well as patients with public insurance, low education levels, and low health literacy. Data suggest our current health services infrastructure loses patients in the postpartum gap between pregnancy-focused care and primary care. Previous studies have suggested strategies to promote oral glucose tolerance testing completion to identify type 2 diabetes mellitus. Based on existing evidence, we propose best practices for the postpartum care of women with gestational diabetes mellitus: (1) enhanced patient support for identifying long-term health care providers, (2) patient-centered medical home utilization when possible, (3) patient and provider test reminders, and (4) formalized obstetrician-primary care provider hand offs using the Situation Background Assessment Recommendation (SBAR) mnemonic. These strategies deserve future investigation to solidify a multilevel approach for identifying and preventing the continuum of diabetes.

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