Published on 22 December 2020

Hospitals praised for helping women with diabetes improve health during pregnancy.

A hospital in Sheffield has been recognised for their efforts to help more women with diabetes better manage their care needs before becoming pregnant and reducing their risk of diabetes-related pregnancy complications.

A community programme organised by Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust saw uptake of a daily folic acid supplement among women with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes soar to nearly 50% just before the pandemic. This compares to 22% in 2018, a figure which had remained more or less static since 2014.

Women with diabetes have a higher risk of developing pregnancy complications, including birth defects, due to high glucose levels.

In Sheffield, up to two-thirds of pregnant women living with diabetes have type 2 diabetes, the most common type of diabetes. In addition, more and more people under the age of 40 are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, meaning the number of young women with the condition who are of child-bearing age is set to increase in the future.

Dr Soon Song who led the project

The project was led by Dr Soon Song, Consultant Physician and Diabetologist at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, and was one of three entries shortlisted in the annual PrescQIPP Innovation Awards’ Working Across Integrated Care Systems category. The awards are open to health care organisations across the country.

Dr Soon Song said: “The steps to improving pre-pregnancy care in women with diabetes are very simple, and with prevalence of diabetes rising in younger women who are of a child-bearing age, it was important that this novel approach was taken. We encourage all women to look after their health and that of their unborn child by taking the recommended daily dose of folic acid.”

Hard to reach groups, including those from ethnic minority backgrounds and those under the age of 40, were specifically targeted in the campaign as these are groups where diabetes prevalence is high and increasing.

The work was chosen to be presented at the National Diabetes in Pregnancy UK Conference in November 2019 and published in Diabetic Medicine in July 2020.
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