Maternal responsibility and omission of complexity: an exploration of the portrayal of gestational diabetes mellitus in Danish written media

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Objectives Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) has implications for the future health of both mother and offspring, and there is a risk that mothers are held responsible and blamed for their own and their offspring’s long-term health. The media plays a significant role in shaping public perceptions of health. Therefore, our study aimed to investigate how GDM and women with GDM are portrayed in Danish written media.

Design We identified written newspaper articles reporting on GDM from 2018 to 2019 and analysed them using thematic network analysis and elements from critical discourse analysis.

Results In total, 130 articles were included in the analysis. Four themes emerged: (1) ways of introducing GDM, (2) descriptions of causes and prevention of GDM, (3) descriptions of consequences of GDM and (4) value-laden descriptions of GDM. GDM was often mentioned in relation to other conditions or factors and with lack of differentiation. Maternal responsibility was emphasised via oversimplified descriptions of causal relations, descriptions of individual agency and no emphasis on structural causes and preventive measures. GDM was positioned as resulting in ‘bad pregnancies’ using value-laden wordings.

Conclusion We identified various aspects of how GDM is portrayed in written media. The findings signal the importance of clear, nuanced and respectful communication on GDM, including conveying the complexity of the condition and the role of structural factors.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere079772
JournalBMJ Open
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 2024

ID: 381056535