The Critical Link: Addressing Gestational Diabetes within Maternal Health at Women Deliver 2016
The facts are clear, approximately 21 million women experience diabetes during their pregnancies each year. Children born to mothers with diabetes are four to eight times more likely to develop the disease. Diabetes is a leading cause of death for women in sub-Saharan Africa, and it is on the rise. Yet despite all we know, the issue of diabetes and women’s health is rarely discussed.
To shed light on this pressing, yet under-examined issue, the World Diabetes Foundation recently hosted a panel at the Women Deliver 2016 Conference in Copenhagen on the link between diabetes and maternal health. The panel brought together leading experts on diabetes and reproductive and maternal health to highlight solutions.
Dr. Chandrika Wijeyaratne, Professor in Reproductive Medicine and Endocrinology at the University of Colombo in Sri Lanka
There is a reciprocal relationship between maternal health and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) –one cannot improve without addressing the other. Last year, the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) has endorsed universal screening for gestational diabetes—now it is time for maternal health programs to provide diabetes screening and treatment as part of basic pregnancy care.
Panelists included: Dr. Chandrika Wijeyaratne, Professor in Reproductive Medicine and Endocrinology at the University of Colombo in Sri Lanka; Dr. Anil Kapur, Chairman of the World Diabetes Foundation Board; Her Royal Highness and Patron of the World Diabetes Foundation, Princess Benedikte of Denmark, and Susan Papp, Director of Policy and Advocacy at Women Deliver.
Along with universal screening and treatment, the session also emphasized that prevention must be included in any gestational diabetes intervention, as lifestyle factors—such as healthy eating and exercise—have a large impact. Educational programs also should underscore healthy behaviors and raise awareness.
“Dialogue on the connections between non-communicable diseases and maternal heath have been largely absent between the maternal health and NCD communities, especially in regard to developing countries and vulnerable populations,” said Susan Papp. “Given the importance of strong healthcare access in preventing, screening, and treatment for gestational diabetes in pregnancy, it’s more important than ever that the global health community come together to identify and encourage collective solutions to this complex problem.”
For more info on Gestational Diabetes, please reference International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO)’s recently released guidelines on gestational diabetes management.