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Gestational Diabetes Education Participation Superior in Hispanic Women

In a cohort of women with gestational diabetes, the participation rate in gestational diabetes education programs was highest for those with Hispanic ethnicity, those who had at least a bachelor’s degree and those who had gestational diabetes during a prior pregnancy, according to findings presented at the American Association of Diabetes Educators annual meeting.

“Optimal management of gestational diabetes is critical to ensure not just successful pregnancy outcomes, but also the long-term health of the mother and her baby,” Harsimran Singh, PhD, health psychologist and clinical research scientist at the Mary & Dick Allen Diabetes Center and Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian in Newport Beach, California, told Endocrine Today. “Unfortunately, however, we know that participation in gestational diabetes-related education and care programs is less than ideal. It is therefore essential to understand factors that promote or hinder in such educational programs so that we can close gaps in care and improve both immediate and long-term outcomes.”

Singh and colleagues conducted a retrospective review with 835 women with gestational diabetes who received a recommendation to attend gestational diabetes education courses. Among the cohort, 647 women participated in the courses, and 188 did not. The researchers compared age, ethnicity, gestational diabetes history and education levels between the two groups.

The OR for educational course participation was more than tripled for women with Hispanic ethnicity compared with white women (OR = 3.47; 95% CI, 1.76-6.85). Hispanic women made up 23.3% of course participants and 16.2% of nonparticipants (P = .003).

“I was delighted that our Hispanic moms seem to be leading the patient group in terms of their engagement in gestational diabetes education and support services. This matters because they are the fastest-growing minority group in the United States and report an increasing prevalence of gestational diabetes,” Singh said. “Research studies generally report that minority groups are less engaged in health care due to a variety of factors and, hence, present with less than ideal outcomes. However, based on our current findings, we feel hopeful about engagement in care from our minority moms with gestational diabetes.”

Women with at least a bachelor’s degree also were more likely to participate vs. those with less than a college education (OR = 2.79; 95% CI, 1.57-4.97). In fact, 75.6% of the women who participated in the courses had at least a bachelor’s degree vs. 30.9% of nonparticipants (P < .001). Participation was higher for women who had prior gestational diabetes vs. women who did not (OR = 1.1; 95% CI, 0.56-2.17). Women with such a history made up 15.3% of the participant group vs. 6.4% of nonparticipants (P < .001).

“We can improve engagement in such programs by developing strong public health campaigns around gestational diabetes and its immediate- and long-term risks and management strategies,” Singh said. “If we can work toward improving awareness around gestational diabetes in the public and encourage them to participate in their care early on, we stand a better chance of identifying high risk patients as well as managing it more effectively.” – by Phil Neuffer