A study by Diabetes in Pregnancy Study Group of India (DIPSI) puts the incidence of pregnancy-induced diabetes in urban India at 15%. Records with the Asian Research and Training Institute for Skill Transfer (ARTIST) show the figure for urban Karnataka stands at 15.8%. The prevalence in rural Karantaka is 9% as against 10% in rural India. The DIPSI findings were released at the first Asia Pacific Congress on diabetes, hypertension and metabolic syndrome in pregnancy, held in Sri Lanka last week.
“India sees a staggering 3 million cases of gestational diabetes every year. Genetic factors have a role to play. An imprint is left on the pregnant woman when she is in her mother’s womb. A similar imprint will be left by her on her child, if her sugar level is not detected and controlled during the pregnancy,” said Dr Hema Divakar, cochair, Federation of International Gynecologists and Obstetricians (FIGO) and medical director, Divakars Specialty Hospital, who was one of the symposium presidents at the Congress.
India worst in South Asia
Experts say pregnant women in India are more vulnerable, given that the ethnic population here is at a very high risk. Of the 85 million adult diabetic patients in south Asian countries, 70 million are from India, a World Diabetes Foundation study presented at the Congress said.
“A starch and sugar-rich diet, high glycaemic index and lack of exercise are the most important causes of gestational diabetes. Stress and pregnancy hormones are additional factors,” Dr Divakar said.
Doctors say lifestyle disorders, stress and irregular medical check-ups are responsible for increasing the risk of pregnancy-induced diabetes among urban women. “The solution lies in making lifestyle changes before pregnancy, conducting tests to detect high blood sugar during pregnancy and being able to control the sugar level during and after pregnancy. This will not only keep expectant mothers, even those over 40, healthy but also ensure the foetus develops in the normal sugar environment of the mother,” she explained.