Gestational diabetes Singapore: Our country has one of the highest rates of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) in the world, with 15 % to 25 % of pregnancies being complicated by it. So it’s no surprise that doctors here are leaving no stone unturned in their quest to prevent and find a cure for gestational diabetes in women.
Gestational diabetes Singapore: What is it?
According to The Straits Times, researchers here in Singapore are conducting a study, together with those in New Zealand and Britain, to see if a special drink taken by women before they conceive and throughout their pregnancy, could help them maintain healthy sugar levels. The study is called Nipper – short for Nutritional Intervention Preconception And During Pregnancy To Maintain Healthy Glucose Levels And Offspring Health.
The special drink contains myo-inositol, a compound found in vegetables and beans, on top of what is routinely recommended for pregnancy. This compound is known to be associated with regulating sugar metabolism and insulin sensitivity.
Associate Professor Chong Yap Seng, senior consultant at NUH’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and principal investigator of the local study, further emphasised that myo-inositol will not have any adverse effects on healthy pregnant women.It is not synthetic but found naturally in foods, he added.
During the study, mothers will be screened for diabetes during pregnancy. Their babies’ growth and nutrition will also be monitored throughout the pregnancy and for a year after birth.
The results of the study should be ready by 2020.
The early signs are encouraging and researchers believe they may have made a breakthrough.
Gestational diabetes Singapore: Hope for pregnant women?
So what exactly is gestational diabetes?
Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that develops only during pregnancy. Diabetes means, your blood glucose, also called blood sugar, is too high. Your body uses glucose for energy. Too much glucose in your blood is not good for you or your baby.
What gestational diabetes does to you
- When a pregnant woman has gestational diabetes, her blood sugar crosses over to high levels. Hence, her body produces more insulin to cope up with this high level of blood sugar or glucose.
- The insulin does not cross the placenta, but the glucose does, giving the baby high blood glucose levels.
- The extra energy from the glucose becomes fat, sometimes resulting in a big baby. A big baby could mean complications for a mother during childbirth.
- The baby’s pancreas will produce more insulin to counter this high level of glucose.
- Excess insulin will put the baby at risk of being obese or diabetic in future.
- According to another local study, around 10 per cent of women who suffer from gestational diabetes develop type 2 diabetes within five years, compared with 1 per cent of women without the condition.
Am I at risk of getting gestational diabetes?
Your chances of getting gestational diabetes are higher if you
- are overweight.
- have had gestational diabetes before.
- have given birth to a big baby (weighing more than 9 pounds).
- have a parent, brother, or sister with type 2 diabetes.
- have pre-diabetes, meaning your blood glucose levels are higher than normal yet not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes.
- have a hormonal disorder called polycystic ovary syndrome, also known as PCOS.
Can I lower my chances of getting gestational diabetes?
If you have some family history of diabetes or are worried about getting gestational diabetes while pregnant, you might want to :
- lose extra weight.
- Increase your physical activity level before you get pregnant.
How does gestational diabetes affect me?
Gestational diabetes may increase your chances of:
- having high blood pressure and too much protein in the urine.
- having surgery—called a cesarean section or c-section—to deliver your baby because your baby may be large.
- becoming depressed.
- developing type 2 diabetes and the problems that can come with this disease later on in life.
How is gestational diabetes diagnosed?
Doctors use blood tests to diagnose gestational diabetes.You will probably be tested for gestational diabetes between weeks 24 and 28 of your pregnancy.
The most accurate blood test is the Oral Glucose Tolerance Test. You will need to fast for at least 8 hours before the test. Your fasting blood glucose level will be checked before the test begins. Then you will drink a sugary beverage. Your blood glucose levels will be checked 1 hour, 2 hours, and possibly 3 hours later. Your doctor will use your test results to find out whether you have gestational diabetes.
Is there a cure for gestational diabetes?
Gestational diabetes Singapore: Being physically active is important for a healthy pregnancy.
The cure for gestational diabetes involves keeping your blood sugar levels under control. You can do this by:
- Healthy eating – Your doctor or dietitian will help you with your dietary plan. The plan will help you know which foods to eat, how much to eat, and when to eat. Try not to skip breakfast. Avoid sugary drinks.
- Physical activity – Be as physically active as you can. Aim for at least 30 minutes most days of the week.
- Insulin shots, if needed – Again, your doctor will be the best person to advise you on whether you would require insulin shots. Note, insulin will not harm the baby.
How can I prevent or delay type 2 diabetes later in life?
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Be physically active for at least 30 minutes most days of the week.
- Follow a healthy eating plan. Eat more grains, fruits, and vegetables. Cut down on fat and calories.
Gestational diabetes Singapore: What are your thoughts on and experiences of this condition?
(Source: The Straits Times, NIDDK)
Also READ: Gestational diabetes can cause preterm labour