Last year, Sufiya Akter discovered she suffers from diabetes and believes her son, Fahad Amin who is only four years old, suffers from autism as a result of her metabolic diseases.
Sufiya says her doctors have informed her that pregnant women who are diabetic have a higher chance of giving birth to babies with disabilities.
“At least 15% of expecting women are diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM) and among these 60% contribute to permanent diabetes within 10 years,” says Dr Samsad Jahan professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Department at Bangladesh Institute of Research and Rehabilitation Diabetes, Endocrine and Metabolic Disorders (BIRDEM).
She added: “Unplanned pregnancies of women with diabetes makes it impossible to sufficiently care for them before giving birth and this leads to persistent excess of malformations in their infants.”
This year’s World Diabetes Day campaign is targeted at women suffering from diabetes and a campaign in Bangladesh is expected to offer free screening for diabetes, confirmed Dr Samsad with Dhaka Tribune. She explained that unrecognised and untreated GDM increases the risk of giving birth to congenital abnormal babies.
Dr Parvin Akter Khanam, principle research officer at Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics of BIRDEM has said, if a mother has diabetes, there is a 40% chance the children may also have diabetes in the future.
Last year, a study by researchers in China has found that folic acid supplement intake during Early Pregnency increases the risk of GDM. The researchers have said, larger cohort studies are warranted to examine this adverse effect.
As per World Health Ogranization (WHO), it has been estimated that 56% of the population are affected and unaware they are carrying the disease, while a mere 39.5% are receiving treatment regularly.
The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) estimates that 1 among 10 women are suffering from diabetes.
WHO estimates that 3% of the population in Bangladesh have died because of diabetes. As per a research paper published in WHO bulletin, an estimated 10 million people in Bangladesh have diabetes. This number is expected to reach 13.6 by 2040.
A community based awareness programme currently exists where marriage registrars or Kazi, are trained to provide basic information on pre-conception care, explains Jahan. She added, BIRDEM General Hospital have facilities to provide counselling to newly-weds for planned pregnancies.