Australian mums needed to help prevent diabetes

14 July 2014

Deakin University researchers are recruiting 1000 mums who experienced diabetes during pregnancy to participate in a national survey that aims to reduce their risks of going on to later develop type 2 diabetes.

Studies show one in two women who experience gestational diabetes progress to type 2 diabetes within a decade of giving birth.

Deakin's Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition (C-PAN) dietician Dr Sharleen O'Reilly said the University project aimed to improve the health of the cohort of women at risk through lifestyle changes and better screening.

This week is National Diabetes Week and the focus this year is on preventing type 2 diabetes.

Dr O'Reilly, who is also a Fellow of the National Health and Medical Research Council, said studies showed women who experienced diabetes during pregnancy were keen to prevent developing type 2 diabetes but were generally not getting tested on a regular basis.

"By participating in the survey, we hope to improve the level of care, advice and support they receive from their GPs to reduce their risks of developing type 2 diabetes down the track," Dr O'Reilly said.

GP's will also be approached to take part in the MAGDA survey, making it the first time that both sides of the story have been examined on a large scale in Australia.

Dr O'Reilly is a member of the Mothers After Gestational Diabetes in Australia (MAGDA) survey research team which hopes to recruit 1000 women nationally. They will have experienced gestational diabetes and need to complete a simple 10-15 minute online survey to help improve the preventative care women receive after the birth of their baby.

A mother of two, Dr O'Reilly said a woman's health often goes on the backburner in the whirlwind bustle following the birth of a baby.

"Late nights, long hours, sleep deprived and eating on the run to ensure bub is cared for around the clock means women may miss out on the care they need."

Melbourne mum and accountant Claire Moyles has already signed up for the study, determined to try and prevent the onset of permanent diabetes after her gestational diabetes appeared from nowhere when she was pregnant with son Josh, now 16 months.

"I had no history of diabetes in my family and had put on just a little weight while pregnant but didn't consider myself overweight," Ms Moyles said.

"I received support throughout my pregnancy after being diagnosed with gestational diabetes but aside from being monitored during pregnancy, I am unsure what the follow-up procedures are.

"My gestational diabetes disappeared after my baby was born with management through diet and exercise, but I now know I have a 50 per cent chance of developing type 2 diabetes.

"Medicine is very often all about fixing things when they go wrong, but I believe just as strongly in prevention being better than the cure.

"I think if women have been diagnosed with diabetes during pregnancy, it should wave a red flag to their GP on follow-up visits to ensure they are monitored."

The MAGDA survey results will provide a national picture of the care given to mums who experienced gestational diabetes and hopefully spark improvement in the care of other women with gestational diabetes in the future.

Women can participate in the survey through www.magdastudy.org.au

 

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