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Mobile app being tested could help in self-management of gestational diabetes

09 Oct 2017

Photo from Lianhe Zaobao

Gestational diabetes (GDM) affects 20 to 30 per cent of pregnant women in Singapore – one of the highest rates in the world. These women not only face a higher risk of developing diabetes post-pregnancy, but are also more likely to give birth to heavy babies who are at higher risk of developing childhood obesity.

To help pregnant women with GDM better manage their condition, a smartphone app that can track their weight and blood glucose levels was jointly developed by the National University Hospital (NUH), medical technology firm Jana Care and SSHSPH.

The mobile app automatically syncs readings from a newly-HSA-approved device that can turn any smartphone into a glucometer, as well as a special Bluetooth-enabled weighing scale. Ideal for mothers on-the-go, the app also provides information on GDM in bite-sized pieces, and nutritional content of meals to help them understand how their food intake is linked to their blood sugar readings.

"Any technology only works when people actually use it. This intervention aims not only to provide clear and accurate information, but also to do so in a practical, accessible, timely and tailored way that maximises women's chances of successfully and sustainably adapting their behaviours to beat GDM,” said Associate Professor Joanne Yoong, Director of the Centre for Health Services and Policy Research, who contributed to the dietary aspect of the app’s development, together with Associate Professor Rob van Dam, Epidemiology Domain Leader.

A/Prof van Dam added, “It is difficult for women with gestational diabetes to know what foods to choose, because foods can have variable effects on blood sugar levels depending on the specific variety, preparation and combination of foods consumed. This app links the meals women consume to their blood sugar levels after meals, providing them with personalised guidance on food choices.”

NUH started conducting clinical trials with Jana Care in September 2017, involving 20 women with gestational diabetes. They aim to recruit over 300 women in the next 10 months, and the results of the study are expected to be ready in about 18 months.

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