Increasing Cases of Gestational Diabetes in India

Synopsis: India registers a high number of gestational diabetes cases, which are bound to increase in the future. This coupled with low awareness and poor testing potential calls for immediate action.

  • Diabetes is a metabolic disease that causes high blood sugar. The hormone insulin moves sugar from the blood into your cells to be stored or used for energy. 
  • If a person is having diabetes, the body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t effectively use the insulin it makes.
  • India has 7 crore cases of diabetes and almost 3.5 crore prediabetes cases. 
  • Further, Type 2 diabetes is most common, it is preventable with some lifestyle changes. However, very less focus is placed on Gestational diabetes.
About Gestational Diabetes:
  • It is a transitory form of diabetes occurring in pregnant women.
  • South Asian women are at higher risk of development as shown by data from the International Diabetes Federation. It estimates that 25% of south Asian women would develop it.
  • In India, it is assumed to be more prevalent in urban areas (30%) than rural areas (10%). Further, assuming a 10% rate of development, the figure for gestational diabetes comes around 27-30 lakh women every year.
Impact of Gestational Diabetes:
  1. First, it enhances complications during pregnancy. This includes preeclampsia (fits during pregnancy), prolonged and obstructed labor, need for assisted delivery, postpartum hemorrhage, etc.
  2. Second, the above complications can cause a spike in maternal and neonatal mortality rates.
  3. Third, if not death, then the probability of developing other problems is quite high.
    • Type 2 diabetes gets developed in almost 50% of women.
    • Children also are at high risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases.   
Challenges in Managing Gestational Diabetes:
  1. First, there is a lack of awareness regarding gestational diabetes due to which, it gets noticed after the complication has occurred.
  2. Second, our health system also lacks the capacity for providing robust and timely testing.
Way Forward:
  • There should be a prompt and adequate implementation of national guidelines on the diagnosis and management of gestational diabetes.
  • The single test procedure suggested by Dr. V. Seshiah (a pioneer in the field of diabetes and pregnancy) and subsequently approved by the World Health Organisation should be adopted for better diagnosis.
  • In order to spread awareness, the 10th march can be celebrated as National Gestational Diabetes Awareness Day. 
    • The Diabetes Study Group of India recommended this step as it would be an act to recognize Dr V. Seshiah’s contribution to the field of diabetes and pregnancy for more than 40 years.

Source: The Hindu

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