Talks focus on pregnancy care for parents, mothers to be

Daniel Lim

Diabetes in pregnancy is not uncommon, Consultant Physician Internal Medicine, Endocrinology and Diabetes of Jerudong Park Medical Centre (JPMC) Dr Gonnie Alkemade said.

She said five to 10 per cent pregnant women experience diabetes in pregnancy. Some women have known diabetes, either Type 1 or Type 2.

“They are advised to see their physician to discuss optimal glycaemic control prior to conceiving,” Dr Gonnie said.

She made these comments when JPMC hosted an antenatal public forum titled ‘Great Expectations in Pregnancy’ at the Grand Ballroom, V-Plaza Hotel, Kuala Belait yesterday.

Presided by the World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) held in August, JPMC shifted the focus to antenatal care (ANC) that every woman planning for a family should be aware of.

Over 150 parents to be attended the event.

The importance of antenatal care cannot be understated as it helps detect abnormalities and preventable illnesses in the mother and child.

Consultant Physician Internal Medicine, Endocrinology and Diabetes of Jerudong Park Medical Centre Dr Gonnie Alkemade speaks at the event; PHOTO: DANIEL LIM

With the support and information from health providers that specialises in obstetrics and gynaecology, JPMC’s Antenatal Public Forum aims to encourage expecting parents to practise a healthy lifestyle, balanced and nutritious diet, and most importantly, to monitor the progress of foetal growth and to ascertain the well-being of the mother and the foetus.

“The majority of women with diabetes in pregnancy are diagnosed with gestational diabetes. This condition is caused by increased insulin resistance as a result of pregnancy hormones. When a woman’s pancreas is not able to overcome this insulin resistance during pregnancy by producing sufficient insulin, her blood sugar levels will rise,” Dr Gonnie said.

She said untreated, this will increase the risk of complications for mother and child.

First-line treatment of gestational diabetes consists of healthy diet modifications, exercise and self-monitoring of blood sugars. By reducing carbohydrate intake and by making healthy choices, many women achieve good blood sugar readings, she said.

“A proportion of women with gestational diabetes will require additional medication such as metformin tablets and/or insulin injections. Women with gestational diabetes ideally receive combined care from their obstetrician, endocrinologist/diabetologist and dietician. After delivery, blood sugar levels will go back to normal in most women without further medication. Women who have had gestational diabetes however are significantly at risk to develop Type 2 diabetes in the future,” Dr Gonnie said.

“They can reduce their risk by continuing a balanced life-style after delivery, with a nutritious diet, healthy weight management and plenty of exercise,” added Dr Gonnie.

Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist of JPMC Dr Siti Khadijah binti Ismail began her talk entitled ‘Bump and Beyond’ conveying the message that “The World Health Organization (WHO) components of ANC include risk identification, prevention and management of pregnancy-related or concurrent diseases, health education and health promotion.

“Nowadays, with vast information accessible at the finger tips, it is prudent that correct and verified information are obtained from the appropriate source,” she said.

Pun Kai Yew of Malaysian cord blood bank, Stemlife Berhad, spoke about the benefits of banking umbilical cord blood and umbilical cord tissue following the birth of a baby.

He also shared about a new and exciting area known as regenerative medicine as well as potential new uses of cord blood stem cells for disorders that have no cure currently such as autism and cerebral palsy.

“Regenerative medicine is the science of living cells being used to potentially regenerate or facilitate the repair of cells damaged by disease, genetics, injury or simply ageing by stimulating the body’s own repair mechanisms,” said Pun.

JPMC’s Acting Chief Operating officer Muhammad Ghani presented tokens of appreciation to the speakers and Stemlife Berhad.

Meanwhile, according to Ministry of Health studies, diabetes is the third leading cause of death in Brunei Darussalam after cancer and heart disease.

Women in Brunei Darussalam are at higher risk of diabetes than men while women with pre-existing diabetes have a higher risk of pregnancy-related complications.