Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) develops during pregnancy, resulting in high blood sugar that can adversely affect a woman’s pregnancy, her own health and that of her baby. When not properly treated, adverse health outcomes include miscarriage, birth defects or complications with delivery.
Quick Facts on Gestational Diabetes/Diabetes in Pregnancy
- Gestational diabetes currently affects one in seven pregnancies worldwide.
- For the mother, diabetes in pregnancy increases the risk of hypertension, pre-eclampsia, renal and vision complications during pregnancy. Roughly 50% of mothers who experience diabetes in pregnancy will develop Type 2 diabetes within five years of delivery.
- Children born to women with diabetes are often large for gestational age and tend to have higher rates of low blood sugar and breathing problems in their first days of life.
- Infants born to mothers with GDM are also at increased risk for development of hypertension and diabetes as adults.
For each of these reasons, it is important for pregnant women with diabetes to have access to blood glucose testing early in pregnancy, along with continued monitoring and resources to properly manage their blood sugar levels during gestation.
There are several known risk factors for gestational diabetes.
- Modifiable risk factors include high body mass index (BMI ≥30).
- Biological risk factors: 25 years and older; family history of either gestational or Type 2 diabetes; prior delivery of infant weighing nine pounds or more).
- Black, Hispanic, American Indian and Asian women are at higher risk for both gestational and Type 2 diabetes.
Women with gestational diabetes should monitor their blood sugar regularly. In addition, diet and exercise play a crucial role in keeping blood sugar levels in check. Insulin may be necessary when diet and exercise alone are not enough to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
In the countries where PSI works, women often do not have access to the information, testing and support they need to diagnose and manage this condition.
PSI trains providers – nutritionists, physicians, nurses, and lab technicians – to screen, diagnose and manage diabetes during pregnancy. Tailored diet and exercise plans, as well as reminders and tips for regular blood sugar monitoring, are all tools used to promote healthy pregnancies and deliveries. We have been able to train nutritionists to work directly with women for improved health outcomes.
PSI is raising awareness among women, their families and the broader community about the risks of diabetes in pregnancy, and how to manage the condition. PSI works alongside ministries of health to build capacity and awareness about the condition, its prevalence and how to maximize existing resources to manage diabetes in pregnancy.
Making a Difference
Gestational Diabetes Screening and Treatment in Nicaragua
With support from Novo Nordisk and the World Diabetes Foundation, our local network member, the Pan American Social Marketing Organization (PASMO), has launched and expanded a successful gestational diabetes program within the Red Segura network in Managua, Nicaragua. The program aims to improve screening, diagnosis and management of diabetes among pregnant women, improve knowledge of diabetes risk and management among health care providers, and increase national advocacy efforts for this work.
Women with gestational diabetes are enrolled in a monitoring program that includes weekly consultations with a nutritionist, a personalized nutrition and exercise plan, regular glucose testing and text messages with encouraging tips and reminders. Since 2013, over 500 providers (physicians, nurses, nutritionists, and lab technicians) have received training and supportive supervision to improve their capacity to screen, diagnose and manage GDM among their patients. Over 18,000 women at participating hospitals and clinics have been tested for diabetes, and 2,137 women have been diagnosed with the condition.
- Non-Communicable Disease Life Course Pocket Cards
At the 61st session of the UN"s Commission on the Status of Women, PSI and its partners on the Women and NCDs Task Force promoted a set of pocket cards illustrating a woman's risk for non-communicable diseases over the course of her lifetime.
- Insights and Lessons from the Pan American Social Marketing Organization’s (PASMO) Gestational Diabetes Project
Diabetes in pregnancy is a neglected maternal health issue throughout Central America. PASMO is working with private sector health providers across multiple hospitals and satellite clinics in Managua, Nicaragua to offer prenatal clients access to testing, diagnosis and management for hyperglycaemia in pregnancy as part of a broader package of maternal health services.
- National White Paper: Synergizing Efforts in Diabetes Care at the Tertiary Level
Every year, roughly 5.8 million Indians die from heart and lung diseases, stroke, cancer and diabetes. In other words, 1 in 4 Indians risks dying from an non-communicable disease (NCD) before they reach the age of 70. In line with WHO’s Global action plan for the prevention and control of NCDs 2013-2020, India is the first country to develop specific national targets and indicators aimed at reducing the number of global premature deaths from NCDs by 25% by 2025.