Health experts warn gestational diabetes is now the fastest growing type of diabetes in Australia, impacting 38,000 pregnant women across the country over the last 12 months.
CEO of Diabetes Australia Professor Greg Johnson said more than 200,000 women had developed gestational diabetes in the last 10 years, with latest projections showing more than 500,000 could develop the condition over the next decade.
“Importantly, gestational diabetes poses a dual threat – firstly without appropriate management and care, it can be a serious risk to mother and baby during the pregnancy, and secondly it poses a serious future risk for both mother and baby developing type 2 diabetes and other health issues,” he said.
“After gestational diabetes, women are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes and children born to mothers who have gestational diabetes are also at an increased risk of being overweight or obese, or developing type 2 diabetes later in life.”
“The alarming increase in number of women developing gestational diabetes presents an intergenerational diabetes issue and threatens to make the type 2 diabetes epidemic even bigger in future.”
Professor Alison Nankervis, an Endocrinologist at the Royal Melbourne and Royal Women's Hospital said the short term complications for mother and baby can be serious, but the risk of complications can be reduced with good treatment and care.
“Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy and usually goes away after the baby is born. The abnormal blood glucose levels can affect both the mother and baby,” Professor Nankervis said.
“The condition makes pregnancy higher risk for both. Babies born to mothers with gestational diabetes are more likely to be born prematurely or via C-section, be larger babies, have shoulder dystocia and a range of other complications.”
“Women with gestational diabetes may need intensive glucose management to avoid serious problems. But with the best possible management and care, the risks can be reduced and women can avoid complications."
Melbourne mum Karla Jennings developed gestational diabetes during pregnancy and subsequently developed type 2 diabetes at the young age of 30.
“I had great support while I was managing gestational diabetes but it wasn’t enough to prevent me from developing type 2 diabetes,” she said.
“The day of my type 2 diabetes diagnosis was devastating. I cried and I cried for days.”
“It was much harder for me to accept than being diagnosed with gestational diabetes but I am determined to manage diabetes and keep living my life.”
“I do think it is critical that Australia does more to support mums like me and help reduce the number of people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in the future.”