Women with risk factors should undergo compulsory gestational diabetes screening: HCFI

5:40 am Health Care, Heart Care Foundation of India, Medicine

Prevention is key to averting birth complications in babies

New Delhi, 7th June 2019: A recent paper published in the Journal of the Association of Physicians of India has suggested that irrespective of whether there are symptoms, it is imperative that every pregnant woman be screened for high blood glucose. The need of the hour is to understand that primordial prevention is essential to prevent children from becoming predisposed to diabetes or other non-communicable diseases.

Gestational diabetes occurs in some women during pregnancy. Though it usually goes away after birth, these women and their children have a greater chances of getting type 2 diabetes later in life.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “During pregnancy, the placenta produces high levels of hormones which can impair the normal functioning of insulin in cells. This can lead to an increase in blood sugar levels, causing a temporary diabetic condition during pregnancy. Another reason could be that the hormones released by the pancreas prevent the conversion of fats and carbohydrate into sugar. This can also cause a rise in blood glucose levels. Some risk factors for this condition include obesity, diabetes in an earlier pregnancy, previous delivery of an infant with a high birth weight, parent or sibling with type 2 diabetes, a personal history polycystic ovary syndrome, ethnicity, and having pre-diabetes.”

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “While gestational diabetes can be managed, it is also important to set the premise for pre-conception screening especially in women who have known risk factors. This will enable them make sensible choices right at the outset and also avoid the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life.”

Women with diabetes or those who are at risk should stop taking oral diabetes medication and start insulin a month before they plan to conceive. Apart from this, it is also important to make certain lifestyle changes and manage the avoidable risk factors.

Some tips from HCFI

•Avoid junk food Processed foods contain refined sugar which is a major risk factor for increasing blood sugar levels in pregnancy. This is more so in case of those with a history of the condition. It is better to consume a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Maintain your calorie intake and have small, frequent meals.

•Check your blood glucose regularly Keep a tab on your blood glucose levels during pregnancy. Knowing your vitals can help you in managing your lifestyle better.

•Reduce stress Pregnancy can be a tough period for women. The resultant stress and upsurge in hormones can all lead to an increase in blood sugar. Try engaging in techniques like yoga and meditation to reduce stress in consultation with a specialist.

• Keep a check on your weight While some amount of weight gain is normal in pregnancy, ensure that it does not increase to proportions that can cause complications. Obesity and high sugar levels go hand in hand and therefore, overeating and processed food should be avoided.

•Exercise Engage in light physical activities in consultation with your gynecologist throughout pregnancy. Being active can help maintain weight and prevent blood sugar levels from shooting up. Physical activity also boosts good cholesterol and improves blood circulation.

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