Innovative gestational diabetes programme available in Wales as national prevention campaign begins

By Editor
25th May 2023
Gestational diabetes, Type 2 diabetes Type 2 prevention

Women with a history of gestational diabetes in Wales can sign up to a free digital educational health resource as part of a Public Health Wales commitment to Type 2 Diabetes Prevention Week.

A first-of-its-kind digital education programme called Babysteps is now available in Wales in a bid to slow down the risk of women with a history of gestational diabetes going on to develop type 2 diabetes.

According to recent data, it is estimated that up to 50 per cent of women with, or who have previously had gestational diabetes, will go on to develop pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes within 10 years of their pregnancy.

To mark Type 2 Diabetes Prevention Week, Diabetes Services across Wales are making a call for women with a history of gestational diabetes to register for the free evidence-based digital platform.

Commissioned by the All Wales Diabetes Implementation Group (AWDIG) and delivered by Leicester Diabetes Centre, Babysteps has been proven to lower anxiety levels, increase physical activity uptake and improve quality of life.

Catherine Washbrook-Davies, All Wales Nutrition and Dietetic Lead for Diabetes, said: “Prevalence of diabetes is rapidly rising in Wales with 10% expected to live with diabetes by 2035.

“It costs the NHS in Wales approximately £500 million a year, which is 10 per cent of its annual budget.”

She added: “Almost 50 per cent of women who previously had gestational diabetes will be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes within 10 years of their pregnancy and there is lots that can be done to help reduce this risk.

“This is why we’ve made the Babysteps interactive digital platform available to women who have had gestational diabetes in Wales for free.”

Alison Northern, Leicester Diabetes Centre Implementation Lead, noted: “The stress and demands of reducing your risk of developing type 2 diabetes after gestational diabetes whilst balancing the joys of parenthood can be challenging and overwhelming and can have a major impact on a person’s ability to reduce their risk.

“Our research shows that Babysteps users experience a reduction in their anxiety levels and increased quality of life, as well as increasing their physical activity levels due to an increase in their confidence to exercise, all as a result of registering on the programme.

“The programme includes short videos, articles and interactive activities on diet and exercise which users can view as quickly, or as slowly, as they like.”

Powered by the award-winning MyDESMOND platform, Babysteps features diabetes prevention-related content, as well as booster sessions and features that allow users to interact with the programme on an on-going basis.

There is also an opportunity to ask an expert and people can track their activity levels and link up to the Fitbit, Google Fit or Garmin. Weight, blood pressure, HbA1c, diet and cholesterol can be tracked and there is the option to set daily targets.

In addition, the programme gives women with a history of gestational diabetes the chance to connect with, and support, each other via the chat forum of the Babysteps community.

Professor Kamlesh Khunti CBE, Co-Director of the Leicester Diabetes Centre and Professor of Primary Care, Diabetes and Vascular Medicine, who led the Babysteps research said: “With gestational diabetes impacting so dramatically on a women’s likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes in the future, it is vitally important that digital health innovations like Babysteps are available to help people to reduce their risk.

“Babysteps provides digital high-quality information that is designed to fit around busy lifestyles and family commitments.”

Of those people who have registered for other diabetes programmes on the MyDESMOND platform in Wales, 85 per cent said they would recommend it to others, 86 per cent found it easy to use and 87 per cent found the information valuable.

Around 80 per cent said they better understood their health as a result, nearly 70 per cent said it had helped them to improve their diet and nearly 60 per cent said it had inspired them to be more active.

If you have a history of gestational diabetes and are registered at a GP surgery in Wales request access to the programme by visiting:

Photo by Luana Freitas on Pexels

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