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Diabetes, High Blood Pressure In Pregnancy On The Rise: NHMS Survey

Mothers who suffered from diabetes in pregnancy rose from 13.5 per cent in 2016 to 27.1 per cent in 2022, while the number of women who had high blood pressure during pregnancy went up from 5.8 per cent in 2016 to 6.5 per cent in 2022.

Statistics on concerning complications during pregnancy among Malaysian mothers from the National Health and Morbidity Survey on Maternal and Child Health 2022. Graphic by the Institute for Public Health, National Institutes of Health, Ministry of Health Malaysia.

KUALA LUMPUR, May 31 – Complications during pregnancy such as diabetes and high blood pressure in pregnancy have risen in 2022 from 2016, according to the National Health and Morbidity Survey: Maternal and Child Health (NHMS MCH) report 2022. 

Mothers who suffered from diabetes in pregnancy in Malaysia rose from 13.5 per cent in 2016 to 27.1 per cent in 2022. There was also an increase in the number of women who exhibited high blood pressure during pregnancy from 5.8 per cent in 2016 to 6.5 per cent in 2022. 

Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is glucose intolerance that is first diagnosed during pregnancy. This condition puts mother and baby at high risk of complications during pregnancy and delivery. If not adequately managed, GDM can cause perinatal morbidity and mortality.

Among the clinical factors that increase the risk of GDM are older maternal age, obesity, glycosuria (excess sugar in the urine), high sugar level based on GCT (glucose challenge test), history of diabetes in the family, history of stillbirth and previous diagnosis of GDM.

A meta-analysis study conducted by UKM found the prevalence of GDM in Malaysia is approximately 21.5 per cent, which is higher than prevalence in countries like Iran (3.41 per cent), Turkey (7.7 per cent), China (14.8 per cent) and India (19.19 per cent).

About 50 per cent of women with a history of GDM will go on to develop type 2 diabetes. Asian women are at a disproportionate risk of both GDM and its progression to type 2 diabetes. Children of mothers who suffered from GDM are also at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

In a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine last year, researchers noted that high blood pressure in pregnancy increases by three to five times the risk of pre-eclampsia, placental abruption (detachment of placenta from the uterus), preterm birth or small-for-gestational-age birth weight, and perinatal death. 

Additionally, high blood pressure raises the risks of maternal death, heart failure, stroke, pulmonary edema (excessive accumulation of fluids in the lungs) and acute kidney injury by five to 10 times.

The NHMS study, conducted by the Institute for Public Health (IKU) at the Health Ministry, did, however, find that anaemia during pregnancy went down from 29.3 per cent in 2016 to 19.3 per cent in 2022. 

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