SINGAPORE: Screening for gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) will be recommended to all pregnant women in Singapore, not just those with high-risk factors.
The announcement was made at the first Singapore Diabetes in Pregnancy Conference by the College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists Singapore (COGS) at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) on Friday (Jan 12).
The International Diabetes Federation estimates that one in seven births are affected by GDM worldwide.
Mothers with GDM could potentially develop high blood pressure, enter pre-term labour or have an increased risk of stillbirth. The baby could be affected as well and risk having breathing difficulties, low blood sugar and jaundice.
Senior Minister of State for Health Dr Amy Khor, who was the guest of honour, said: “Mothers with GDM also face a higher risk of developing diabetes in the future".
Furthermore, children born from such pregnancies are likely to develop childhood obesity and Type 2 diabetes later in life. In Singapore, diabetes is the second highest cause of ill and death, said Dr Khor.
The screening will be recommended at the 24th to 28th weeks of pregnancy.
Previously, only pregnant women identified with high-risk factors - including high body mass index, being above 35 years of age, and a family history of diabetes - were highlighted for GDM screening.
The change in the guideline criteria came after a successful pilot trial the year before by KKH. From Jan 2016 to date, the pilot showed a 20 per cent increase in GDM cases, according to KKH.
Professor Tan Kok Hian, head and senior consultant with KKH's Perinatal Audit and Epidemiology Unit, said the pilot also helped to ascertain the cost-effectiveness of routine screening for gestational diabetes.
"And we find that it is," he said, adding that early detection would also reduce the cost of treatment for GDM.
“We'll be able to plan the care they require, thereby reducing the complications as a result of gestational diabetes,” said Prof Tan.