Twenty Five Percent Of Women At Risk For Gestational Diabetes In India

With all the different types of diabetes out there, it’s easy to get confused about which is which. Type I Diabetes is an autoimmune issue, usually diagnosed before age 30, in which the pancreas fails to make the hormone insulin, which is needed by the body to utilize glucose (blood sugar), which is the energy our cells use to survive. Type II is a bit more complicated and multifactorial, often due to a combination of genetics, age, obesity, eating habits, sedentary lifestyle, and sometimes the cause is not known. This type can often be controlled by diet and exercise and oral pills used to combat the excess sugar in the blood.

Gestational diabetes occurs only in pregnant women, and can be a significant cause of morbidity and mortality, particularly when not caught by healthcare providers. That’s why all women are screened around their 28th week of pregnancy. With gestational diabetes, up to 15 percent pregnant women suffer worldwide, and in India, an estimated four million women suffer from the pregnancy complication, Rajesh Chhibber, Public Health Foundation of India, Delhi, a public-private initiative, said recently.

Why Indians are more at risk may be due to hereditary and cultural food choices. However, women are not the only ones at risk for types of diabetes, as there are 65 million people with diabetes in India, of which only 45 percent are women.

Gestational Diabetes is a grave risk for mother and child, no matter what their ethnicity. Without proper care, and even with proper care, infants are at higher risk to be still-born, to be large for gestational age (generally weighing more than 8 pounds, 13 ounces) and are at risk for being stuck in the birth canal, suffering oxygen starvation, or shoulder dystocia. They are also at special risk for having low blood sugar after birth and must be carefully monitored in an equipped nursery.

One way that mothers can combat this condition is to achieve a desirable weight before becoming pregnant, and then gaining the suggested amount of weight for the pregnancy (25 to 35 pounds for a woman of average weight, less if she is overweight) and she needs very frequent monitoring by a physician, especially in her third trimester, if she is found to have gestational diabetes. She is at higher risk for caesarean section, which can lead to infection, blood clots, and other maladies. While many survive gestational diabetes unscathed with proper care, the fact that Indian women are more at risk is a problem that suggests it is related to health disparity, or a difference in health care between the rich and poor. More research is needed to understand and combat this serious obstetrical problem.

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