Mater Professor takes global approach to gestational diabetes

Monday 20 February 2017

Mater’s Director of Obstetric Medicine, Professor David McIntyre, is one of two Australian researchers to be awarded a Visiting Professor Fellowship in Denmark.

Professor McIntyre will collaborate with research members of the Danish Diabetes Academy around the analysis of Danish and Australian gestational diabetes data.

“The ultimate aim is to develop recommendations and guidelines for the diagnosis and management of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) within the Danish healthcare system.”

Gestational diabetes mellitus, commonly referred to as gestational diabetes, is a specific type of diabetes that only occurs during pregnancy. Women having children later in life, teamed with a greater incidence of obesity in Australia, has led to a large surge of diabetes during pregnancy.

Professor McIntyre explains that when he started working at Mater over 20 years ago, he would have seen approximately ten women per year with type 2 diabetes and that has now increased to around 60 cases per year, which is reflective of the nature of the increasing global health burden.

“In Australia approximately one in ten pregnant women will develop gestational diabetes; globally there are approximately twenty-million pregnancies each year complicated by high blood sugar and that’s a very substantial health impact.

“Beyond immediate pregnancy complications, a gestational diabetes diagnosis also carries lifelong risks of permanent diabetes and cardiovascular disease for both the mother and baby.”

Professor McIntyre’s proposed research will provide additional insights into the burden of gestational diabetes in Denmark against the global context.

“This project will lay the basis for careful assessment of the health burdens of gestational diabetes mellitus with the long-term aim of global improvement.”

Professor McIntyre’s experience in leading the development of statewide guidelines for gestational diabetes in Queensland, provide a solid background for the development of Danish gestational diabetes recommendations and educational resources.

“I have been involved in attempts to achieve an agreed definition for gestational diabetes locally, in Australia, and on a global level. There is no single ‘correct’ definition of gestational diabetes, only varying interpretations of a ‘reasonable’ approach which vary greatly across differing countries and regions.”

 “While gestational diabetes treatment recommendations may not need to be entirely similar in Denmark and Australia, I can offer substantial experience in encouraging clinicians to engage in dialogue to reach consensus in this area,” said Professor McIntyre.

“There is much more that can be done. We need to focus on supporting women and their own health as a foundation stone for their family’s health.”

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