2 out of every 5 women with diabetes are in the child-bearing age group, says Dr Gagan Priya, Senior Endocrinologist, speaking on the occasion of World Diabetes day, at Fortis Mohali. The event was organized to spread awareness amongst women. The event was preceded by a student interaction in Government Home Science College, Chandigarh where she, talked about the unique issues that women living with diabetes face in our country.
The event began with the lighting of the ceremonial lamp, followed by a poem recitation “Naariki Shakti”, by renowned poetess Mrs Yogeshwar Manav.
During the event,Dr Gagan Priya, Senior Endocrinologist, talked about the unique issues that women living with diabetes face in our country. Gender discrimination and disease stigma is of concern in young women planning to get married. They often have difficulty in finding a partner and there are concerns about whether or not they can have children or whether pregnancy would be safe. Referring to a regional study she said that 2 out of every 5 women with diabetes are in the child-bearing age group. She elaborated that all women who are at high risk of diabetes should be screened before conceiving or as soon as pregnancy is confirmed. Many a times, women develop ‘gestational diabetes’ or GDM in later half of pregnancy even if they had normal blood glucose earlier.
In fact, 1 in 7 pregnancies may be affected by GDM. Therefore, all pregnant women must be tested for GDM at 24-28 weeks of pregnancy. High blood sugar during pregnancy can affect the newborn – it is like transfer of karma from mother to the child – the concept is called ‘metabolic karma’! High blood glucose at the time of conception and during pregnancy can lead to untoward complications. However, the good news is that if good diabetes care is maintained, one can earn good karma and the benefits would be reaped by both mother and child. These women who develop GDM are also at future risk of developing lifelong diabetes. This can prevented if they follow a good lifestyle and exercise regularly.
Dr Swapna Misra, Gynecologist, talked to the ladies about the importance of counseling of diabetic women before planning a pregnancy and emphasized that unplanned pregnancies should be avoided. If blood glucose is controlled before pregnancy and during pregnancy, one can have a successful pregnancy and avoid birth defects or growth problems in the child. She then went on to discuss the importance of using contraceptives in women of child-bearing age group.
Depression is very common among diabetic women and affects almost 25% of them at some time in their life. Our clinical psychologist Sumedha Banerjee, Clinical Psychologist, spoke about mental health in women. Meditation and stress-reduction strategies improve disease outcomes and also help women life healthier and more complete lives in both personal and professional arena. She conducted a brief session on meditation and talked about the importance of providing psychological support to the woman. Many ladies among the audience also shared their unique stories of how they have overcome obstacles in their personal journey of living with diabetes.
Education is the key to empowering women. A major aspect of empowerment is nutrition education. Ms Abhilasha, Dietician, discussed the role of nutrition and exercise in management of diabetes. Family members and children of diabetic individuals are themselves at high risk of developing diabetes. Therefore, she emphasized, that healthy food choices should be adopted by the whole family and here, the role of women becomes very significant. By making healthy choices, she can not only take care of herself, but also ensure that her family stays healthy.
Dr Gagan Priya, concluded that there is a pressing need to empower women and help them take charge. The women play a significant role in not only their own health, but they are also the gatekeepers of the nutrition and lifestyle habits of the entire family. In order to tackle the ever-rising diabetes epidemic in the country and to prevent diabetes, it is imperative that young girls and women be educated about various aspects of these modern epidemics. Our women can lead the way to a better future.
There are over 199 million women living with diabetes worldwide and this number is expected to rise to 313 million by 2040.