Understanding Barriers to Testing for Women with Gestational Diabetes

Nearly 10 percent of pregnant women develop abnormally high levels of blood glucose during pregnancy (gestational diabetes), according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. Blood glucose monitoring, changes in diet, and medication during pregnancy are often needed to avoid potential harm to the mother and baby.

Up to 30 percent of women who experience gestational diabetes will develop type 2 diabetes as they age. Many of these women do not test their blood glucose levels as often as they should. AIR led a team of researchers to better understand why women at high risk avoid checking their blood glucose levels.

The study surveyed 139 women with a history of gestational diabetes, and researchers interviewed 22 women to provide more in-depth context. The survey found that 15 percent of the women had not been tested, and that visiting a primary care provider lowered the risk of not being tested by 72 percent. In interviews, women revealed that they were often unable to find time for primary care provider visits or to schedule appointments for blood testing.

Moreover, information about the risk of future diabetes was not communicated to them during pregnancy, and they did not receive consistent reminders about the need to test years after childbirth. The study underscores the need for health care delivery systems to improve the connection between obstetrics and primary care for this population of women and to find ways to help new mothers integrate regular blood glucose testing and primary care visits into their schedules.