A National Workshop on Gestational Diabetes organized by the Dasman Diabetes Institute, which was founded by Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health has called for more attention to be given to the problem of gestational diabetes in Kuwait. The workshop brought together over thirty clinical experts and research scientists in the area of diabetes, obstetrics, pediatrics and epidemiology to review the global evolution of gestational diabetes and its implications in Kuwait.
The experts concluded that gestational diabetes is assuming epidemic proportions everywhere and they agreed that unless urgent action is taken to stem the problem in Kuwait much of the progress that has been previously achieved in the area of maternal and child health could be seriously set back by gestational diabetes. In Kuwait as many as 15 percen of all pregnancies are already being affected by gestational diabetes. This is a significantly higher proportion than in Europe or North America where gestational diabetes is also a problem.
Gestational diabetes is a temporary condition that some women develop during pregnancy and which goes into remission after delivery. During the pregnancy, however, gestational diabetes affects the development of the fetus, can cause some malformation and make labor and delivery more complicated. Over the longer term, gestational diabetes can go on to place the mother at a higher than average risk of developing type 2 diabetes and it can also place the young child at greater risk of early onset of obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular illness.
Fortunately, much can be done to prevent gestational diabetes by ensuring that pregnant women maintain normal body weight before pregnancy and eat a healthy diet and maintain regular exercise during their pregnancy. Even if the mother does develop gestational diabetes it can be very effectively managed if it is diagnosed early and followed by comprehensive antenatal care. Early diagnosis of gestational diabetes also gives time for the mother and the healthcare team to prepare for any possible complications at the time of labor and delivery.
In view of the urgency and growing nature of the problem in Kuwait, the workshop participants called for a review and updating of Kuwait’s national policy and guidelines on gestational diabetes to incorporate newest scientific knowledge. They also called for more rigorous advocacy of the policy and guidelines so that all relevant healthcare staff involved in maternal and newborn healthcare are aware of them and adhere to them. The Dasman Diabetes Institute was asked to coordinate these efforts and work with the Ministry of Health in developing a national training program designed to bring healthcare staff up to date with new information and techniques on the management of gestational diabetes.