pregnant women

Experts give out advice for women with diabetes as part of World Diabetes Day

by Barbara Hewitt on November 8, 2017

This year’s World Diabetes Day will aim to highlight women and diabetes as part of an international drive to give more information on how to manage the condition, particularly in relation to mothers and pregnancy.

It is estimated that globally one in 10 women have diabetes and one in seven births are affected by gestational diabetes, which can have implications for mothers and babies in later life as well.

Woman Diabetes

(By Image Point Fr/Shutterstock.com

To mark World Diabetes Day on 14 November, experts from the University of Sydney in Australia have set out the advice they would give women as well as those caring for them in the health system.

Glynis Ross, adjunct associate professor from the university’s central clinical school, pointed out that while women with type 1 diabetes generally receive excellent advice on planning their pregnancies, those with type 2 diabetes tend to fly under the radar.

‘All pregnancies complicated by diabetes need to be managed well to avoid problems late in pregnancy and at delivery, as well as to reduce the children’s risk of future health problems including diabetes and obesity. Health providers need to be proactive about raising these matters with their patients,’ she said.

One way of improving care for women with diabetes is to use more precision medicine, according to associate professor Samantha Hocking of the Boden Institute of Obesity, Nutrition, Exercise and Eating Disorders.

She explained that current treatment algorithms for diabetes utilise a ‘one size fits most’ approach and as a result, the treatment plan selected may not be the best management strategy for each individual.

‘An alternative strategy is precision medicine, in which information about a person’s genes, environment and other characteristics are used to develop an individualised treatment plan to obtain the best outcome,’ she said.

‘Ultimately, we hope to prevent metabolic diseases such as diabetes, by understanding the best lifestyle choices for an individual to maintain optimal health across the lifespan,’ she added.

The key is a better understanding of different types of diabetes and what is behind them so that more effective treatments can be developed, according to Dr Melkam Kebede of the school of life and environmental studies.

She pointed out that despite the strong association between obesity and type 2 diabetes, the majority of individuals who are obese and have pre-diabetes do not develop diabetes. ‘About 80% of people who are obese do not develop type 2 diabetes because cells in their pancreas are able to compensate for the insulin resistance,’ she said.

‘More research is needed to better understand how these cells behave under normal conditions and the reason they fail in people with type 2 diabetes, in order to develop more effective and targeted treatments for patients,’ she added.

Looking ahead it is important for people to limit their adult weight gain to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes, it is suggested. ‘Study after study is showing that you can prevent or delay a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, said Jennie Brand-Millar, professor of human nutrition and main researcher of the world’s largest study into preventing diabetes through lifestyle.

‘The single most effective decision is to make sure we don’t gain too much weight as adults, 10% at the most. This means eating a high quality diet with smart food choices and saving party foods for the party,’ she said.

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