Doha, 6 January, 2019: The expanded diabetes clinic at Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) Women’s Wellness and Research Center (WWRC) cares for between 1,500 and 1,700 pregnant women each month. Dr. Mohamed Bashir, Endocrine Consultant at HMC, says over 18,000 women who have been diagnosed with a thyroid condition, endocrine disorder, or diabetes prior to, or during, their pregnancy are treated at the clinic each year. He added that the clinic now serves as the third National Diabetes Center at HMC.
The National Diabetes Center at Hamad General Hospital was opened in 2013 and receives about 2,000 adult and 700 pediatric patients each month. The National Diabetes Center at Al Wakra Hospital opened a year later, in 2014, and receives approximately 400 patient visits each month. Offering a multi-disciplinary approach to patient care, the National Diabetes Centers provide patients with improved access to specialized treatment, delivering a range of services from initial screening through to treatment, health education, and the provision of medication and equipment.
The WWRC’s Center, located on Level 1 of its Outpatient Department, is dedicated solely to caring for pregnant women at risk of, or living with, diabetes. Over 20 staff comprised of endocrinologists, podiatrists, dietitians, education specialists, physicians, nurses, pharmacists and technicians, all work together to improve diabetes management and prevention in pregnant women.
“Since we relocated to the Women’s Wellness and Research Center, we have seen an increase in the number of women requesting our services. On average, each year we receive up to 18,000 pregnant women who have been diagnosed with a thyroid condition, endocrine disorder, and/or diabetes, prior to, or during, pregnancy,” says Dr. Bashir.
Dr. Bashir notes that the clinic has seen a significant increase in the number of patients received each month since it first opened in 2014. Initially located at Women’s Hospital, the clinic cared for around 600 patients each month when first operational.
“We are glad to have moved to this new space at the WWRC, which is almost double the size of our old clinic. We now have the capacity to attend to more patients as our number of clinics has increased. Our physicians now conduct 10 clinics weekly, while our educators and dietitians hold 20 clinics each per week,” said Dr. Bashir.
According to Dr. Bashir, there are three main types of diabetes, type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes. He explains that gestational diabetes is first seen in a pregnant woman who did not have diabetes before she was pregnant. He says if not controlled, the condition can place a woman and her baby at risk of serious health complications.
“Diabetes can cause problems during pregnancy for both the woman and her developing baby. Poor control of diabetes during pregnancy increases the chance of birth defects and other problems such as congenital deficits, loss of pregnancy, high blood pressure, or complications during delivery, including premature birth, fetal death, large babies, and cesarean section. Additionally, children who are born to mothers with diabetes are at high risk of developing obesity and type 2 diabetes later in life,” said Dr. Bashir.
Dr. Bashir states that gestational diabetes can be controlled through healthy eating and regular exercise. However, he notes that diet and exercise are not sufficient to control the condition in all women as blood sugar levels depend on the individual.
“The importance of controlling diet in pregnancy cannot be over-emphasized, which is why the role of our dietitians and diabetes educators is so vital to the service we offer our patients,” said Dr. Bashir.
He adds that for most women with gestational diabetes, the condition goes away soon after delivery. He says when it does not go away, the condition is reclassified as type 2 diabetes and the affected woman is advised to commence diabetes treatment immediately.
“Our mission at the WWRC National Diabetes Center is to help women achieve successful pregnancies by providing them with the right education to self-manage their condition. While some women with gestational diabetes may need medication, the role of controlling their diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and managing their blood pressure and blood sugar levels is extremely important,” Dr. Bashir concludes.