Background: Women whose pregnancy was complicated by gestational diabetes have a 7-fold higher risk of developing diabetes, primarily type 2. Early detection can prevent or delay the onset of late complications, for which follow-up screening is important. This study investigated the extent of participation in follow-up screening and the possible consequences of nonattendance in the Region of North Jutland, Denmark.
Method: In Danish national registers covering the years 1994-2011 we identified 2171 birthing women whose pregnancy was complicated by first-time gestational diabetes. Control visits to general practitioners and biochemical departments after giving birth were charted. Following national guidelines we defined four intervals for assessment of participation in follow-up screening. Diagnosis of diabetes or treatment with glucose-lowering agents after giving birth were also identified. Participation in follow-up screening and risk of diabetes was calculated. Time to obtaining diagnosis of diabetes or initiating treatment was analysed by Cox regression models. All models were adjusted for age, ethnicity and income.
Results: High attendance was found during the first control interval, after which attendance decreased with time after giving birth for both controls at general practitioners and biochemical departments. All differences in proportions were statistically significant. Women attending controls at general practitioners had a significantly higher risk of diabetes diagnosis and treatment after gestational diabetes than women not attending. The results for women attending testing at biochemical departments also showed an increased risk of initiation of treatment. Women attending at least one general practitioners control had a significantly higher risk of early diabetes diagnosis or treatment. Time to initiation of treatment was significantly higher for testing at biochemical departments. Women with high incomes had a significantly lower risk of diabetes diagnosis or initiation of treatment compared to low-income women.
Conclusion: Participation in follow-up screening after gestational diabetes is low in the North Denmark Region. Follow-up screening ensures early detection of diabetes and initiation of treatment. Our results emphasize the importance of development of interventions to improve early detection and prevention of diabetes after gestational diabetes.