06. Sep 2016

Meeting puts focus on hyperglycaemia in pregnancy

Gwendolyn Carleton
The Sri Lanka congress is part of a global effort to increase global awareness about blood sugar's role in maternal and child health.
A graphic in Sri Lanka’s Sunday times explores the risks of high blood sugar in pregnancy. A landmark meeting on the topic opens on Thursday. Graphic by Nain Balasuriya.
This week, more than 350 people from across South Asia will gather in Colombo, Sri Lanka to discuss a growing threat to maternal and child health – hyperglycaemia in pregnancy (HIP).
The 1st Asia Pacific Congress on Diabetes, Hypertension & Metabolic Syndrome in Pregnancy takes place from 8-10 September. This three-day landmark meeting is organised by the South Asia Initiative for Diabetes in Pregnancy (SAIDIP) and Diabetes in Pregnancy Asia Pacific (DIPAP) and is supported by the Ministry of Health Sri Lanka, the World Health Organization Sri Lanka Country Office and the World Diabetes Foundation. 
Because of its high rates of obesity and diabetes, South Asia is a hotspot for high blood sugar during pregnancy. The International Diabetes Federation estimates that about 25% of live births in South Asia are impacted by HIP, which is associated with: 
Significantly increased risk of complications during pregnancy and delivery
Higher risk of future diabetes and cardiovascular diseases for the mother 
Higher risk of obesity, earlier onset type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease for the child
Joining hands in battle
The meeting will provide a platform for exchanging ideas and best practices for addressing the problem in South Asia, which shares similar genetics, lifestyles, socio-economic development, and health systems, its organisers say. 
"Focusing attention on HIP is a sustainable and cost-effective way of addressing the double disease burden of high maternal and newborn morbidity and mortality and rising rates of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases," says Dr Anil Kapur, Chairman of the World Diabetes Foundation.
The International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) has created an HIP Working Group to encourage more attention to the problem at all levels. “All stakeholders have to join hands in this battle,” Dr Hema Divakar, Co-Chair of the HIP Working Group said in a feature article in Sri Lanka’s Sunday Times.
In the same article, conference co-president Prof. Chandrika Wijeyaratne emphasised what is at stake.
“Let’s start at the very beginning….from womb rather than closer to the tomb,” she said.

Pragmatic guidelines from FIGO

FIGO recommends that all pregnant women should be tested for hyperglycaemia using a simple one-step procedure.

In October 2015, the organisation released FIGO Initiative on Gestational Diabetes Mellitus: A Pragmatic Guide for Diagnosis, Management and Care, which offers strategies and pragmatic options for countries with resource challenges.