Hyperglycaemia in pregnancy

With instances of hyperglycaemia during pregnancy on the rise, pharmacists can support these women by providing health and lifestyle advice both during and after their pregnancy.

Learning objectives 

After reading this article, pharmacists should be able to:

  • Identify the different conditions presenting as hyperglycaemia in pregnancy
  • Describe the risks and complications associated with hyperglycaemia in pregnancy
  • Discuss the treatment options used in the management of hyperglycaemia in pregnancy.

Competencies (2016) addressed: 3.1, 3.2, 3.6.

Hyperglycaemia in pregnancy (HGiP) is a major cause of pregnancy complications. Growing rates of obesity and advanced maternal age in women having children have contributed to the increased prevalence of HGiP.1 Changed diagnostic pathways and more stringent diagnostic criteria have also led to a substantial increase in the number of women being diagnosed with gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) i.e. their hyperglycaemia first detected during pregnancy meets the criteria of GDM.2

Maternal hyperglycaemia impacts negatively on the pregnancy.3 Hyperglycaemia affects perinatal mortality, perinatal and neonatal morbidity, and maternal outcomes.4 Considering the importance of accurate diagnoses, it is unfortunate that controversy surrounds the diagnostic and screening criteria for GDM. Many countries are still implementing local criteria even after five international workshops since the 1970s.3 Inconsistencies can also occur between different organisations (obstetric and diabetic) within the same country.3,4

One in six pregnancies worldwide is affected by hyperglycaemia as shown in the International Diabetes Federation’s Diabetes Atlas 8th Edition, published in 2017.5

Want to learn more? PSA members can access the full article and assessment questions here to earn up to 1.5 Group 2 CPD credits.

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