The theme of this year’s World Diabetes Day (14 November) is “Eyes on Diabetes’ and centers screening for Type 2 diabetes and diabetes complications. Without a specific emphasis on screening for diabetes in pregnancy, efforts will be woefully inadequate.
Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), or the onset of diabetes during pregnancy, is a serious yet undertreated condition that affects 14% of women worldwide and 18 million live births per year. Women with unmanaged GDM run a higher risk of having infants with excessive birth weight, or macrosomia, which can lead to complications such as obstructed labor and an increased risk for maternal and newborn death and disabilities. In the long term, unmanaged GDM will contribute to the rising global burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), as more than half of all women with GDM will develop type 2 diabetes within five years of delivery.
Though evidence begs for intervention, GDM remains overlooked as a major maternal, new born and child health (MNCH) priority. Advocacy that translates evidence into action is an urgent and necessary step towards: 1) improving the health of women and their families; 2) tackling the rise of NCDs; 3) breaking down artificial silos and barriers between NCDs and maternal and newborn health; and 4) accelerating progress towards Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3: promoting healthy lives and wellbeing for all at all ages by 2030.
Together with the World Diabetes Foundation, Women Deliver seeks to elevate the issue of gestational diabetes.