A new set of guidelines has been published to help healthcare professionals improve care for pregnant women with diabetes.

The Joint British Diabetes Societies for Inpatient Care (JBDS–IP) guidelines have been produced to support existing processes in care available for pregnant women with diabetes on admission to hospital.

The guideline is the latest in the series of JBDS-IP guidelines developed to improve the standards of care for people with diabetes in secondary care.

Hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar levels) is reported to affect around a third of new-born babies with the risk of damage in the development of the child’s nervous system. The guideline suggests the risk of this complication can be reduced with good control of blood sugar levels by the mother during pregnancy, delivery and birth.

Previously published NICE guidelines on the target blood glucose should be maintained – and the new JBDS guideline aims to provide a standard for these targets to be safely and effectively achieved.

Pregnant women are at higher risk of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) and its adverse consequences and the guideline provides a standardised practice on how to recognise and treat DKA in the special situation of pregnancy.

Diabetic ketoacidosis is a serious problem that can happen in people with diabetes if their body starts running out of insulin. This causes harmful substances called ketones to build up in the body, which can be life-threatening if not spotted and treated quickly.

Dr Umesh Dashora, study author and Lead, Diabetes and Endocrinology, East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust and Senior Lecturer, Brighton and Sussex Medical School, said: “Managing diabetes during delivery and while giving steroids for prematurity can be quite difficult. DKA may have significant adverse consequences for the mother and the baby in pregnancy. This guideline will help standardise management in these difficult clinical situations and help achieve NICE suggested glycaemic control targets.”

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