Today is World Diabetes Day. For women, gestational diabetes can be a risk during pregnancy and lead to serious complications.
Pregnant women should get themselves checked for gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) to avoid serious health complications for them and their babies.
GDM is the leading cause of high blood sugar and one of the most common medical conditions associated with pregnancy.
“The prevalence of diabetes among women is about 18.6 per cent, which is a bit higher than men.
“On top of that, our main concern is about pregnant women having GDM when they are still young or during their reproductive age, but are unaware about it or don’t know whether they are at risk or not,” says Dr Nurain Mohd Noor, Malaysian Endocrine and Metabolic Society secretary and consultant endocrinologist at Hospital Putrajaya.
Dr Nurain was one of the panelists at a media dialogue on Women and Diabetes hosted by the New Straits Times recently.
Held in conjunction with World Diabetes Day, the dialogue also involved Dr Feisul Mustapha, consultant in public health medicine at the Ministry of Health, Sebnem Avsar Tuna, corporate vice president, Business Area Oceania South East Asia, Novo Nordisk and consultant dietitian Indra Balaratnam as the moderator of the session.
Dr Nurain says women with GDM have a high risk of complications during delivery or of having babies born with abnormalities or congenital defects.
Studies show that approximately 50 per cent of women with GDM go on to develop type 2 diabetes within five years of pregnancy, while children born to women with GDM are up to eight times more likely to be obese and develop type 2 diabetes in their teens or early adulthood.
“With such serious complications, expectant mothers, especially the young ones, should be aware of the disease and go for screening,” she says.
Those who are at risk are women who are pregnant and more than 35 years old or those who have had GDM in previous pregnancies.
“A woman with family history of diabetes type 2 is at risk too,” she says.
She adds that the standard glucose screening test (to diagnose GDM) is available at all government clinics and hospitals.
If the result is negative but the expectant mother is in the high risk group and her pregnancy is still at an early stage, she will have to go for the same test again towards the second trimester.
If she is diagnosed with GDM, the treatments would comprise dieting, blood glucose monitoring or insulin jabs, depending on her blood glucose profile.