New Resources for Gestational Diabetes
Pregnant women who have high blood sugar might have a form of diabetes that makes their bodies use much more insulin than it did before pregnancy.
It’s called gestational diabetes and managing it can include special meal plans, exercise, daily blood testing and in some cases, insulin injections.
Through Avera eCARE’s™ telemedicine technology, more women can easily get the help they need when dealing with this health issue in pregnancy.
“Gestational diabetes differs from other types of diabetes because it has a starting and ending point,” said Avera Medical Group OB-GYN specialist Kimberlee McKay, MD. “The fact that it ends is good, but it does pose risks for moms and babies. It may increase the chance of caesarean birth, and it can lead to the baby getting too big and being injured during birth.”
Monitoring Can Help
Moms who have closely managed gestational diabetes care do better after the baby is born and avoid these risks, McKay said. But technology is making it easier to maintain those tight controls, thanks to the Before Baby: Avera Remote Gestational Diabetes Monitor Project.
“Using AveraNow and remote glucose monitoring, we are addressing the access issue that some women face and making the management of their gestational diabetes more convenient,” she said. “Using funding we received from a Health Resources and Services Administration grant, we have been able to make this program work for mothers and babies in about 15 counties in South Dakota. It’s beginning to show results.”
McKay said the generation of women who “run their lives” via a smart phone are taking to the program easily, and that they are appreciative of the ease. There’s no drive to the clinic, no parking the car, no waiting for the appointment.
“It’s so darn convenient, and we can use the data to closely monitor their diet and evaluate the use of medications or insulin,” she said. “Using telemedical technology, we can avoid increases and decreases that might go with a more traditional approach, since we’re getting their blood-sugar data in real time, and working with them closely every day.”
Expanding Ease of Care
As the new program continues, McKay hopes it’ll show lower rates of C-section births and other complications gestational diabetes can cause. More patients are complying more with the instructions from their registered dietitians, their certified diabetes educators and their doctors.
“We do have a little grouchiness as women in the program are monitored and can be alerted if we see a trend without them seeing us in person, so that takes some getting used to, but overall, a vast majority of patients we have are supportive of our efforts,” said McKay. “Rates of this condition can be as high as 10 percent of all pregnancies in South Dakota, so we’re looking forward to continuing and seeing what we can discern from the data.”
Here’s a more detailed look at this effort:
Before Baby: Avera Remote Gestational Diabetes Monitor Project
- It serves women in 15 counties in rural south-central South Dakota via a mobile telemedicine application on smart phones. So far, about 25 women have taken part.
- Using the AveraNow application, powered by Avera eCARE, and a cloud-based glucose monitor, moms-to-be who face gestational diabetes are able to monitor their blood-sugar levels without making regular in-person appointments with their doctors or certified diabetes educators. It allows all parties to work together more effectively.
- AveraNow is a smart-phone “app” and women can talk in real time with a physician or educator via video conference to discuss diet, blood-sugar levels, medication rates and other important details that are part of the management effort.
- The program gathers data from the monitors and that information goes to health-care providers, so they can update pregnant women and keep closer track on diet and other factors that can affect their blood sugar levels.
- Since it’s so convenient for women, that ease of management can help them to follow the directions from their doctor, and that in turn can reduce the impact of gestational diabetes.
- As the program leads to healthier babies and moms, its merits could serve to lead to expansion of the program.