Gestational Diabetes Affects 1 in 20 Pregnancies, but MOMS Orange County is Educating Expectant Mothers about the Disease and Its Complications
By Pamela Pimentel, RN, CEO of MOMS Orange County
Pregnancy is a heartwarming time for most women but a diagnosis of gestational diabetes can insert fear into any heart. And with good reason: Left uncontrolled, it can cause problems for both mother and baby that could complicate delivery or lead to type 2 diabetes. According to a recent analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the prevalence of gestational diabetes is as high as 9.2 percent — that’s one in 20 pregnancies.
But together we can reduce that figure because gestational diabetes is largely preventable.
As part of our nonprofit’s mission to help mothers and their families have healthy babies, MOMS Orange County promotes gestational diabetes prevention by educating and supporting mothers so they can make smarter nutritional, health and lifestyle choices during pregnancy. Through our Pregnancy & Diabetes Program, MOMS Orange County works to decrease the number of at-risk mothers who develop gestational diabetes and improve the birth outcomes for babies born to diabetic mothers.
Based on a study from 2012 to 2014, MOMS Orange County collected data on 174 mothers who participated in the Pregnancy & Diabetes Program. The most important goals of this program are to prevent at-risk women from developing gestational diabetes and helping mothers have healthy babies.
Only 9 of the 158 mothers who were not already diabetic developed gestational diabetes while receiving services from MOMS Orange County. The gestational diabetes conversion rate of 5.7 percent is below the countywide average of 7.2 percent.
Three indicators of health for a baby — gestational age of 37 weeks or longer, birth weight from 2,500 to 4,000 grams, and no time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit — were measured to assess a baby’s health at the time of birth. Through education and prevention, nearly 85 percent of the babies born to mothers in the MOMS Orange County Pregnancy & Diabetes Program were in the healthy range on all three indicators. In fact, the mothers generally had lower rates of premature births and lower rates of low birth weight babies compared to the county average.
MOMS Orange County asks women to take to heart the lessons learned from our report and reminds women considering pregnancy as well as expectant mothers of the best ways prevent gestational diabetes (Centers for Disease Control):
– Before you become pregnant, talk with a healthcare provider about how to reduce your risk of gestational diabetes
– Get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity five days a week — brisk walking, yard work or playing soccer with your children all are great activities
– Make healthy food choices by eating a variety of foods — increase your consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein; skip sweets and sugary drinks; and avoid canned soups and processed meats that contain a lot of salt
– Maintain a healthy weight
– Go to all prenatal visits
About the author:
With over 38 years of experience in maternal/child health, Pamela Pimentel, RN, CEO of MOMS Orange County, is an expert when it comes to mothers and babies. Since 2000, Pimentel has led MOMS Orange County in helping at-risk mothers and their families have healthy babies through the nonprofit’s services of providing access to prenatal care, health screenings, infant development screenings, health education and referral services through monthly home visits and group classes. Among her many awards and accolades, she has been honored as March of Dimes Nursing Executive of the Year, as the National Latina Business Woman Leader of the Year, and with Senator Lou Correa’s “Women Making a Difference” Award. To learn more about Pimentel and MOMS Orange County, visit www.momsorangecounty.org.