FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 21, 2006
MAYOR BLOOMBERG AND COMMISSIONER FRIEDEN LAUNCH OUTREACH CAMPAIGN FOR MOTHERS WHO DEVELOP DIABETES DURING PREGNANCY
4,000 Mothers at Risk of Health Complications Will Receive Information and Resource Packets; Nurse-Family Partnership Will Assist in Providing Face-to-Face Education
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) Commissioner Dr. Thomas R. Frieden today announced an initiative to educate and provide resources for women who developed diabetes during their pregnancy, a condition known as gestational diabetes. The City will send information packets each year to more than 4,000 affected mothers describing health risks and providing tools for them and their babies. The Mayor was joined at the announcement at the Health Department's District Public Health office in Bedford Stuyvesant by Dr. Monica Sweeney, Vice President of Medical Affairs at Bedford-Stuyvesant Family Health Center and several community partners including the American Diabetes Association, SCO-Family of Services, Northern Queens Health Coalition, CAMBA, Bright Star, St. John's Bread and Life, the Northern Manhattan Prenatal Network and the Caribbean Women's Health Association. At the State of the City Address, the Mayor announced that the City is embarking on a major campaign to fight diabetes.
"The twin epidemics of diabetes and obesity are getting worse quickly - in both New York City and the nation," said Mayor Bloomberg. "This campaign is one important way to fight these diseases. By partnering with community-based organizations and the medical community, we can reduce the serious health effects of diabetes and improve the lives of thousands of new mothers and their babies."
"Obesity is leading to an increase in gestational diabetes, but health complications can be prevented in both mothers and babies," said Dr. Frieden. "People at risk for diabetes, including women with gestational diabetes, can cut in half their risk of full-blown diabetes by a modest increase in physical activity and modest weight loss. Breast feeding is also strongly encouraged, as this reduces the risk of obesity in both the infant and the mother."
The resource packet contains a letter in English, Spanish, Chinese, and Urdu describing the health risks of gestational diabetes and making recommendations on how moms and babies can stay healthy. It also includes several Health Bulletins on factors contributing to obesity and diabetes, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, as well as tips for a healthy diet, physical activity, and helping children reach a healthy weight. A letter for mothers to bring to their doctors is also included. For Harlem, South Bronx, and North and Central Brooklyn (District Public Health offices areas), the packet also contains neighborhood-specific guides to fitness programs.
Information for the mailing was obtained from birth certificates records, which include check boxes for gestational or previously diagnosed chronic diabetes. More than 30,000 health care providers, including doctors, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and midwives, will receive a letter reminding them to discuss risks for gestational diabetes, screen for diabetes before and after delivery, and recommend lifestyle changes. Community agencies serving women and families will also receive packets for their clients.
DOHMH will also use currently operating programs to educate new mothers about preventive steps they can take if they have had gestational diabetes:
Women who are obese, older, or have family members with diabetes are at highest risk. Two out of three women will develop gestational diabetes again in future pregnancies, and half of women will develop diabetes outside of pregnancy within ten years if they do not increase physical activity and reduce weight. Gestational diabetes can cause serious problems for babies, such as premature birth or heavy birth weight, and increases a child's risk of obesity later in life.
"Getting follow-up care is critical for new moms who have had gestational diabetes," said Dr. Monica Sweeney, Vice President of Medical Affairs at Bedford-Stuyvesant Family Health Center. "This includes a post-partum test for diabetes and working closely with your doctor to manage weight and take precautions for future pregnancies. We are here to help women manage these health risks for themselves and their new babies."
Citywide, prevalence of gestational diabetes is highest in Brooklyn and Queens. While diabetes rates are highest among Black and Hispanic populations, South Asian women are at greatest risk of developing gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes screening is even more important for this group. As obesity increases and greater numbers of older women become pregnant, gestational diabetes increases in all ethnic groups.
To stay healthy, new mothers and potential mothers are encouraged to:
Stu Loeser/Jordan Barowitz (212) 788-2958
Sandra Mullin (Department of Health and Mental Hygiene)
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