Pregnant women urged to manage hypertension and diabetes to prevent birth defects

Pregnant women urged to manage hypertension and diabetes to prevent birth defects

Hypertensive and diabetic expectant mothers have received stern advice to adhere strictly to the directives of their healthcare providers. Mrs. Cecilia Ankomah, Principal Nursing Officer at the Polyclinic's Wellness Clinic, emphasized in an interview with the (GNA) that uncontrolled hypertension and diabetes during pregnancy could lead to birth defects in babies.

Mrs. Ankomah underscored that these conditions could negatively impact fetal development, heightening the risk of complications such as pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, pre-term birth, and macrosomia (large birth weight). She stressed the importance of proper antenatal care in monitoring blood pressure and managing risks effectively.

Recent statistics indicate a significant prevalence of hypertension ranging from 25 to 48 per cent in Ghanaian adults, while diabetes also shows alarming rates, estimated at around 6.46 per cent in the adult population, according to the International Diabetes Federation. Mrs. Ankomah highlighted that these conditions contribute substantially to the country's health burden.

Data from the Ashaiman Municipal Health Directorate revealed hypertension as the top disease seen in the municipality's Outpatients Department (OPD) in 2023, with 22,002 cases recorded between January and December.

Hypertension, defined as a chronic medical condition characterized by elevated blood pressure levels (140/90 mmHg or higher), and diabetes, a metabolic disorder affecting blood sugar regulation, are both influenced by genetic factors. Mrs. Ankomah stressed the need for regular screenings to detect these conditions early, especially since hypertension can often be asymptomatic.

Diabetes, categorized into Type 1 and Type 2, requires lifelong insulin therapy and careful dietary management, particularly for children, who typically have Type 1 diabetes.

Unhealthy diets, lack of physical activity, tobacco use, harmful alcohol consumption, urbanization, and lifestyle changes are identified as primary causes of these diseases. Mrs. Ankomah urged the public to undergo regular screenings for hypertension and diabetes at wellness clinics.

To combat the rising prevalence of these diseases, she advocated for awareness campaigns, screening programs, promotion of healthy diets and physical activity, and policies aimed at reducing salt in processed foods and restricting the marketing of unhealthy foods.

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