Using text messaging technology, Project HOPE and the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation have developed a program designed to educate women in Mexico City about gestational diabetes—high blood sugar levels diagnosed during pregnancy.
The program, called “Using Mobile Technology for Diabetes Management Among High Risk Mothers in Mexico,” will send informative text messages about prevention and treatment of gestational diabetes to help educate an estimated 1,000 low-income mothers.
“With mobile phones literally at the fingertips of many pregnant women and new moms at risk of gestational diabetes, they are a powerful tool for teaching women how to avoid and care for the illness,” said Paul Madden, Senior Advisor, Non-communicable Diseases, in a Project HOPE statement.
Current statistics indicate gestational diabetes affects as many as 18 percent of Mexican mothers, and 30 to 60 percent of women who develop gestational diabetes will progress into type 2 diabetes within five to 10 years.
In the United States, research indicates Latinas are at a higher risk for gestational diabetes compared to non-Hispanic white women. This disparity is likely connected to genetic susceptibility, indicates Everyday Health, as even when of normal weight and age during pregnancy, Hispanics are still at an increased risk compared to non-Hispanic whites.
Socioeconomic status, which can influence rate and quality of care, is also thought to play an important role, making programs which reach out to low-income families, such as the new Project HOPE initiative, an important commodity.
Awareness of gestational diabetes needed
The American Diabetes Association notes there is no definitive cause of gestational diabetes; experts feel it has to do with placenta support as the baby grows. Hormones in the placenta assist the baby’s development, but they can also block the action of insulin in the mother’s body. When insulin is not working properly, glucose levels in the blood begin to build, eventually resulting in gestational diabetes.
Educational programs for women are important, because if left untreated or if not controlled properly, gestational diabetes can potentially harm a baby by elevating glucose levels in the infant as well as in the mother. This most commonly leads to what is known as macrosomia, or an overweight baby. These children are at risk for obesity issues, breathing trouble and injury during birth.